Sleep Apnea in Children: What You Need to Know

Is Your Child Suffering From Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a serious health condition that can affect patients of any gender and all ages. This means children can suffer from sleep apnea, too. In fact, research has shown that one in five children develops and suffers from sleep apnea. Your child’s sleep apnea is due to a blockage in the airway that obstructs their breathing, causing them to repeatedly wake up throughout their sleep – which they often don’t remember. 

It’s important to understand what sleep apnea can look like in children. Learn more about pediatric sleep apnea through our patient-friendly guide below.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea in Children

Sleep apnea isn’t an easy health condition to spot in children. Due to its very similar symptoms with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), children can often be misdiagnosed and won’t receive the proper care they need.

Without treatment, sleep apnea can lead to other health complications, including weight gain, diabetes, heart problems, and more. That’s why Dr. Slobodinsky recommends children undergo a sleep study if they’re experiencing any of the following sleep apnea symptoms:

  • Loud, frequent snoring
  • Gasping or choking sounds during sleep
  • Bedwetting
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty waking up in the morning 
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Short attention span/lack of concentration
  • Slow growth

It’s important to note that snoring is not the most common symptom of sleep apnea in children.  For that reason, we highly recommend paying attention to the other symptoms listed above.

Effects of Untreated Sleep Apnea in Children

If children are experiencing long periods of disrupted sleep, it can result in chronic fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and more. Leaving sleep apnea untreated can cause children to develop hyperactivity, which can cause an ADHD misdiagnosis. Studies have shown that sleep-disordered breathing may cause symptoms of ADHD and that treatment for sleep apnea, when present, helps lessen these symptoms.

Leaving sleep apnea untreated can also cause your children to struggle socially. In the more severe cases, untreated sleep apnea can cause growth delays, cognitive delays, and heart problems. Don’t let your child suffer from further health complications due to sleep apnea. 

Our Treatment Options

If your child has received a sleep apnea diagnosis, Dr. Slobodinsky provides effective treatment options. The traditional solution to sleep apnea is a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. This device pumps air through a mask that your child wears while sleeping. However, CPAP machines are known to be uncomfortable and loud, causing many children to stop using them. 

In cases such as these, Dr. Slobodinsky can suggest oral appliance therapy. Oral appliances are similar to mouthguards and allow for easy breathing throughout the night. Unlike CPAP, custom oral appliances are comfortable, quiet, and portable. As a result, your child can achieve a good night’s sleep and enjoy their day free of fatigue once again. 

Schedule an Appointment With Dr. Slobodinksy

If you feel your child may be suffering from sleep apnea, it’s important to receive a proper diagnosis and effective treatment. Dr. Slobodinsky and our professional team are here to help! To schedule an appointment, call our Philadelphia office at (215) 739-2543 and one of our team members will be happy to assist you. You can also get in touch through our online contact form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can children outgrow sleep apnea?
Can a child die from sleep apnea?
Is it possible my child has sleep apnea if they don’t snore?
Can children outgrow sleep apnea?

It is possible for a child to outgrow sleep apnea as they age. However, children with undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea can develop behavioral problems as well as significant health issues like heart disease and stunted growth. While a child may grow out of the symptoms of sleep apnea, the consequences are much more dangerous. This is why it’s crucial to seek treatment at the earliest signs of sleep apnea.

Can a child die from sleep apnea?

While death as a direct result of sleep apnea is highly unlikely, the consequences of untreated sleep apnea can create dire health situations. Children can develop high blood pressure and other serious illnesses that can eventually lead to death. With a sleep study, Dr. Slobodinsky can accurately diagnose your child’s sleep apnea and help get them the treatment they need to have a long and healthy life.

Is it possible my child has sleep apnea if they don’t snore?

Yes, there are many other symptoms and effects of sleep apnea that can help identify the disorder. Many young children will not snore despite having sleep apnea, but a restless night’s sleep will leave them fatigued during the day and likely irritable and unable to concentrate.