Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can affect both children and adults. It can cause some concerning overall health issues and, in children, behavior concerns. Recognizing the signs of sleep apnea in kids is one of the most important ways you can help spot a problem and seek treatment. In this blog, your pediatric dentist in The Woodlands will cover some of the most common signs of sleep apnea in kids as well as some of the complications it can cause.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition that occurs when a person stops breathing while sleeping. This can happen for a few seconds or longer, and your child may not even know it’s happening. Interruptions in breathing during sleep can cause oxygen levels to drop and carbon dioxide levels to rise, making sleep and rest difficult to achieve.
Know The Signs
Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea may appear during sleep as well as when children are awake. There are even times when sleep apnea is mistaken for other conditions such as ADHD. Pay attention to your child’s sleep habits and their behavior while awake, and keep an eye out for:
- Mouth breathing
- Pauses in breathing or gasping for breath
- Night terrors
- Poor performance in school
- Difficulty paying attention
- Learning or behavior problems
- Weight gain
If you notice any of the signs of sleep apnea, schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist in The Woodlands.
Sleep apnea occurs when the throat muscles relax so much during sleep that they block the airway, making breathing difficult. This can happen for a number of reasons:
- Large tonsils or adenoids
- Craniofacial or muscular anomalies
Other risk factors that can make a child more prone to sleep apnea include down syndrome, cerebral palsy, sickle cell, neuromuscular disease, and a family history of sleep apnea.
How is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?
The first step in getting a proper diagnosis is to see your pediatric dentist in The Woodlands for an evaluation. The next step can vary depending on your child’s symptoms and exam. The following step may include tests such as a sleep study, measurement of oxygen levels overnight, or an electrocardiogram. Your dentist may also examine the size of the tonsils.
Treating Sleep Apnea
Treatment varies from patient to patient and can range from:
- Medications such as nasal spray or allergy medicine
- Tonsil or adenoid removal
- CPAP machine
- Oral appliance
Sleep apnea can be scary, but treatment is available. If your child is experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea or you’re having trouble with behavior, consider talking with your pediatric dentist. Come prepared with symptoms and a log of when you notice them as well as any family history of sleep apnea.