Sleep apnea is a chronic medical condition that is most often associated with overweight adults. However, children can suffer from sleep apnea as well, and when they do, it is essential that they receive careful intervention, so they can sleep better. When your child does not achieve the deep and restful sleep they need, it can cause far-reaching and negative consequences in their home life and their educational experience. At Koala® Center for Sleep and TMJ Disorders, our experienced sleep apnea doctors can help you understand your child’s condition and provide effective care that will improve their breathing and help them sleep better.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition where a person will stop breathing partially or completed frequently during their sleep cycle. This stoppage is caused by the narrowing or blockage of your child’s upper airway. One of the most important differences between sleep apnea in adults and sleep apnea in children is the way it affects them during the day. Adults who suffer from undiagnosed or untreated sleep apnea will often be groggy or tired throughout the day. However, for children, the impact can be much more dire as lack of sleep manifests as behavioral issues that can not only negatively impact their relationships with friends and family members, but can also lead to problems at school. For adults, sleep apnea is most often related to being overweight or obese, while in children, the root cause is more often enlargement of the tonsils or adenoids that are too large for their still developing bodies.
How do I know if I should bring my child to a sleep apnea doctor?
If you observe your child snoring or pausing their breath during sleep, you should bring them to see a doctor. Sleep apnea can also cause your child to be restless during sleep, breathe through their mouth, wet the bed, or experience sleep terrors. Often, parents may be startled by coughing, choking, or snorting noises their child makes as they struggle to breathe normally during sleep. While these symptoms may be easy to spot, not all children with sleep apnea will exhibit the more obvious signs. You should also look for signs during waking hours including hyperactivity, behavioral issues, learning difficulty, and poor weight gain.
Will my child need a CPAP machine?
While continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines are still often the first treatment option for adults, the pediatric sleep apnea doctors at Koala® Center for Sleep and TMJ Disorders believe in using minimally invasive treatments to help children breathe easily without relying on bulky machines. Custom-fit dental appliances that are created especially for your child’s mouth can provide anatomically accurate alignment of the jaw, so the airway remains open during sleep. These appliances are simple to wear and maintain, making them an especially good option for pediatric patients suffering from sleep apnea symptoms. Our doctors work together with our dedicated dental staff to ensure every device is perfectly suited to the individual child it was designed for.
If you think your child may be suffering from pediatric sleep apnea, contact Koala® Center for Sleep and TMJ Disorders to find the location nearest you. We offer exceptional treatment options for children with sleep apnea at locations across the United States, so call us today to schedule your first appointment.