What Are The Symptoms And Causes Of Obstructive Sleep Apnea In Kids?


What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea In Kids?

Obstructive sleep apnea is a common sleeping disorder in which a child’s airway is partially or completely blocked. The upper airway is maintained by muscles in the head and neck, which relax during sleep. However, during sleep, these muscles are less active, and the tissues in the airway fold closer together. Often, an enlarged tonsil or adenoid can cause the airway to partially close or even completely close.

To confirm a diagnosis, a child must undergo a sleep study, also known as a polysomnogram. During the sleep study, a child is attached to electrodes that record the brain’s activity, breathing patterns, and oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. A technician may also measure the child’s heart rate and give a reading of the electrical impulses it gives off. If your child’s OSA is severe, he or she may need to undergo surgery. In severe cases, your child may be prescribed a tonsillectomy, but if the problem is mild, you may need to use a nasal corticosteroid instead. If your child is obese, you may need to lose weight to determine whether the problem is OSA.

When a child has this disorder, he or she often experiences short pauses in breathing during the night and is unable to fall fast asleep. These short periods arouse the child and increase muscle tone, which opens up the airway. Once the child is awoken from the arousal, they will normally resume breathing. Once awake, these brief interruptions in breathing can have a significant effect on the child’s daytime behavior.

Causes Of Obstructive Sleep Apnea In Kids

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that causes pauses in breathing during sleep. It is also associated with obesity, which is one of the causes of obstructive sleep apnea in adults. In children, the condition is most commonly associated with enlarged tonsils or adenoids. Neuromuscular disorders and craniofacial abnormalities are other causes of obstructive sleep apnea in children.

The condition affects your child’s airway, leading to pauses in breathing during sleep. Because of these pauses, oxygen levels in the blood decrease, alerting the brain to the problem. The pauses in breathing wake the sleeping person and cause several symptoms, including hyperactivity, fatigue, and poor performance. Children with obstructive sleep apnea need to see a doctor as soon as possible.

Treatments For Obstructive Sleep Apnea In Kids

If your child is experiencing snoring or keeps their mouth open while sleeping, they may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. Other symptoms may include poor attention span and behavioral problems. A physician can perform an overnight sleep study to rule out other conditions or diagnose OSA. The child may also benefit from a snorkel device on their face.

Medicines And Surgeries

Treatments for obstructive sleep apron in kids may include a combination of medical devices and surgeries. In children with severe hypoxemia, nocturnal supplemental oxygen (NPO) may be an effective therapy. Surgical options may require a more invasive approach, and children with less severe sleep-disordered breathing may not be candidates for surgery. Pediatric specialists should perform a thorough examination and test children for sleep hypercapnia, such as during an overnight sleep study.

Pediatric treatment for obstructive sleep apnea has evolved considerably over the past two decades. While T&A once was considered a cure in many cases, residual respiratory abnormalities have been noted after the procedure. This is especially true of children who are obese and have predisposing conditions. Anti-inflammatory treatments and orthodontic interventions are also sometimes recommended.


CPAP is a common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea in children. In some cases, the child may not even realize they are not breathing. This means their bodies are compensating for the lack of air. The symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea in kids may result in lowered blood oxygen levels and even permanent heart damage.

Positive airway pressure, or PAP, is one of the most common non-surgical treatments for obstructive sleep apnea. CPAP uses a nasal or oral mask to force air into the airway. Although it is effective, children often have a difficult time sticking to the treatment. If a child can’t tolerate the mask, it may help to implement a behavioral program for them. Parents should consult a doctor if they suspect their child has obstructive sleep apnea. These children might experience problems with concentration, impulse control, or even learning during the day. If a child suffers from obstructive sleep ap apnea, it is best to start treatment as soon as possible.

Steroid Nasal Sprays

In children, steroid nasal sprays or saline nasal rinses may be prescribed to reduce airway constriction and inflammation. Several types of allergy treatments may also be prescribed to reduce poor tongue posture. Other options include surgery for adenoids and tonsils. Adenotonsillectomy and other upper airway surgery may also be necessary. These procedures can also be combined with medication to improve the symptoms.

In Conclusion

The lack of sleep and daytime sleepiness in children is often attributed to undiagnosed sleep apnea. Children with sleep disorders are twice as likely to experience behavioral and learning problems, such as hyperactivity and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Sleep disorders in children can also cause long-term behavioral problems, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Furthermore, untreated sleep apnea in kids can affect growth, and disrupt growth hormone secretion in children.


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