Obstructive Sleep Apnea In Children
Latest update: September 25, 2018
Author: Heidi Holvoet, PhD
Is your child snoring at night? Mouth breathing when sleeping?
Sweating heavily? Moody, cranky or showing behavioral
problems during the day? These are symptoms of sleep apnea in children
that may need medical attention.
Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the single most common type.
An affected child will have
blockages during naps or nights: she will stop breathing for several moments,
then wake up briefly, gasping for breath.
This can occur up to tens of times each night, or during naps.
About 1-3% of children (between 2 and 18 years old) will have a
form of it at some point, which is quite a large number. Between 2 and
years old is the peak age, but sleep
apnea in babies also occurs.
Needless to say that it's a disorder that prevents good
quality naps and nights. It also brings along serious health problems and may be
dangerous. That's why diagnosis and appropriate
treatment is so important.
But sadly, it all too often goes unnoticed. Why?
Because the symptoms are not always crystal clear. Let's have a look.
Questions? Don't hesitate to Ask
Signs of Sleep Apnea in Children
There are important
differences between the symptoms in children and in
In adults already it goes undiagnosed all too often, but the
symptoms in children can be even more hidden, making a quick and correct diagnosis even
start with, you may not
notice that your little one wakes up tens
of times each night. She may wake up briefly, catch her breath, and go
Even though she gets very poor nights in this way, she
may not even
seem extremely tired during the day (the main difference
with the symptoms in adults!). On the contrary, a sleep apnea child
may be overly active
during the day. Or be quite moody or show
Read more about the signs and symptoms in children (including a complete check list).
Diagnosis in Children
As soon as you have any hint that your child may suffer from a form of
apnea, see your doctor of paediatrician for a check-up.
diagnosis will be done by a specialized pediatric sleep center.
A dedicated study
will be used for the OSA diagnosis.
polysomnography monitors sounds (snoring and gasping for breath) but
also breathing, brain waves, muscle tension and oxygen levels. It's an
overnight test which is either done at the pediatric center or at home with
a home monitoring kit.
Treatments for Sleep Apnea in Children
The main cause in young children is relatively
and adenoids (those glands at the back of the throat and
behind the nose).
The most effective classic medical treatment then is the removal of
those through a so-called Tonsillectomy
and Adenoidectomy (T&A).
Alternatively a CPAP
(Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine can be used.
For more details on this see the apnea solutions overview.
Children's Sleep Apnea on Sleepapnea.org.