The Rising Cases of Sleep Apnea Among Kids

You only want what is the for your kids and that includes an uninterrupted good night sleep. But on some nights, one of your concerns is seeing your child having nightmarish slumbers. Your child is abnormally snoring, having pauses in breathing, and unnecessarily flipping around on bed like a dog. It continues night after night to the point that it started messing your own sleep.

It does cause for a panic, since as a child they should be getting that sleep right on target. Having your children undergo such circumstance could cost them their physical and intellectual growth.

You talk to your doctors, and your nightmares could, d have been truer. All signs point to one thing and one thing only. Sleep apnea.

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According to American Sleep Apnea Association, about 1 to 4 percent of children in United States suffer from this sleeping disorder. The condition varies from age to age, but usually occurs to children between 2 to 8 years old.

While there is a possibility that the affected children can outgrow sleep apnea, untreated cases may present a whole new health complication. Studies have suggested that 25 percent of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder may have suffered from sleep apnea while they were younger. Unusual sleeping patterns that sleep apnea presents also causes impaired learning and behavior problems. Other behavioral irregularities connected to sleep apnea are bed-wetting, sleep-walking, retarded growth, other hormonal and metabolic problems, and failure to thrive. Several recent studies also show that childhood obesity can be attributed to sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. Since healthy sleep is thrown out the window, the tendency for the child is to make it up for incessant eating.

Sleep apnea in children is something that you don’t want to overlook. This could make or break your children’s future therefore, you need to tread the needle and deal with this unusual sleeping pattern your child is having.

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Types of sleep apnea

  • Obstructive sleep apnea – Caused by a blockage in the back of the throat or nose. It is the most common type.
  • Central sleep apnea – Happens when the part of the brain responsible for breathing fails to send the signals to breathing muscles.

Symptoms of sleep apnea in children

If you notice these abnormalities in your children while they are asleep, it is most likely that they already have sleep apnea. These symptoms do not differ much from the adults.
  • Loud snoring or noisy breathing (gasping or snorting) during sleep
  • Pauses in breathing, lasting usually a few seconds up to a minute
  • Mouth breathing
  • A nasal voice
  • Restlessness during sleep
  • Too much daytime sleepiness or irritability
  • Hyperactivity during the day
  • Behavioral problems
  • Sleep walking or night terrors
  • Bed wetting
  • Need for a nap past the age of napping
  • Learning problems
  • Morning headaches
Sleep apnea red flags aren’t only limited through your child’s restless night’s sleep. The following symptoms could also manifest during daytime. Link all these altogether, and you may have a sleep apnea to deal with.
  • fatigue
  • difficulty waking up in the morning
  • falling asleep during the day

Keep in mind that infants and young children who have sleep apnea may not snore, especially those with central sleep apnea. Sometimes, the only sign of sleep apnea in this age group is troubled or disturbed sleep.

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Risk factors of sleep apnea

Any of your child could be an unlucky candidate for this sleeping disorder. However, if one of them has any of these signs, most likely he or she is vulnerable to having one.
  • a family history of OSA
  • being overweight
  • medical conditions such as Down syndrome or cerebral palsy
  • problems of the mouth, jaw, or throat that narrow the airway
  • a large tongue, which can fall back and block the airway during sleep
  • some medical conditions, such as heart failure and strokes
  • being born prematurely
  • some congenital anomalies
  • some medications, such as opioids

Consequences of untreated sleep apnea

You would have thought that this is a one-time thing and could go away automatically. While it is true to some cases, you should not bank on your child’s future on sheer luck.

Sleep apnea, when left unchecked, can lead to long periods of disturbed sleep resulting in chronic daytime fatigue. This could lead to a worse domino effect such as learning problems to impaired academic performance. Since there is an intellectual compromise, your child could find it difficult to thrive socially and academically. In most severe cases, sleep apnea can hamper physical growth and cognitive delays.

It is also further revealed that sleep apnea in children can also develop hyperactivity. In ADHD cases, 25 percent of them have found to have traces of sleep apnea tendencies.

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Sleep apnea treatment

In some cases, a child can simply outgrow sleep apnea and will live to tell a tale about it without you having to exert so much effort. But of course, this is a gamble that you will not be willing to roll your dice on. So the most logical thing to do is to keep your child monitored courtesy of our pediatrician and see if there is any improvement.

Topical nasal steroids are also available on the market and can be prescribed to relieve nasal congestion in your child.

Use of CPAP Machine and CPAP Cleaner

Another option and a long-term one, is to have your child subjected to a continuous CPAP therapy. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. During this phase, a CPAP machine will be responsible for keeping the airway open by injecting a continuous flow of air. The device should be ready for use and your child will wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth while asleep. Make sure that the mask, filter, and humidifier is clean by using a CPAP cleaner.

A CPAP cleaner uses an activated oxygen UV light technology. In this process, your CPAP sanitizer will make short work of germs and bacteria that will make the machine safe for use. If you feel that soap and water is a huge hassle, a few bucks on a CPAP machine cleaner is a worthy investment.

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As a parent, it is normal to worry about your child’s abnormal sleeping pattern. Not to mention the long-term after-effects that it can inflict.

Sleep apnea can compromise your child’s quality of life. It can impair their academic concentration, social development, and could also lead to serious life-threatening complications.

If even at the slightest that your child has loud snoring, pauses in breathing while asleep, hyperactivity, or severe daytime fatigue, do not hesitate to visit your sleep specialist. It is never a waste when you are safeguarding your child’s future.


American Sleep Apnea Association

Stanford Children's Health

Sleep Medicine Institute of Texas

Cleveland Clinic



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