Causes, Signs, and Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Children

child sleeping with sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a common disease that can affect all ages. Sleep apnea occurs when an obstruction in the upper airway disrupts breathing during sleep. Those afflicted may cease breathing for ten seconds or more. Snoring is the most common indication of obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea in Children

Although obstructive sleep apnea is not as common for children as for adults, 2% to 4% of those under age 18 may be afflicted in some way. The risks are the same as for adults, and a visit to a children's ear nose and throat doctor can pinpoint the causes and determine a course of action.

Signs of Sleep Apnea

A child suffering from obstructive sleep apnea may cease breathing momentarily, snore, or snort suddenly during sleep. They may also show signs of drowsiness during the daytime, irritability or hyperactivity, behavioral issues, trouble at school, or nighttime bedwetting. Children who are overweight, have been diagnosed with muscular diseases like cerebral palsy, or have conditions affecting the jaw or tongue are at increased risk of sleep apnea. A children's ear nose and throat doctor can evaluate your child's symptoms to diagnose the condition.

Risks of Childhood Sleep Apnea

Untreated sleep apnea can put your child at risk. Some common risks include:

  • Stunted growth due to OSA's effect on growth hormones

  • Difficulty concentrating at school

  • High blood pressure or other cardiovascular problems

  • Insulin resistance

  • Obesity

  • Fatigue

Treating Childhood Sleep Apnea

A children's ear nose and throat doctor can diagnose the underlying cause of your child's sleep apnea. In some cases, removing enlarged tonsils or adenoids corrects the issue.

At Southwest Idaho ENT, we have decades of experience treating pediatric ear nose and throat diseases. For specialized, comprehensive care for your child, contact us for a consultation today!