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?
Could my child have sleep apnea even if they don’t snore?
What happens if my child’s sleep apnea goes untreated?
Can my child develop a behavioral disorder?
Can children outgrow sleep apnea?

While it is possible for children to outgrow sleep apnea, the potential complications it can cause are much more dangerous. It can lead to behavioral issues and create significant health issues if left untreated. That’s why it’s crucial to seek treatment at the earliest signs to help protect your child’s health.

Could my child have sleep apnea even if they don’t snore?

It’s possible that your child may have sleep apnea even if they don’t snore. There are many other symptoms and indicators of sleep apnea that can help with identifying the disorder including fatigue, behavioral issues, and irritability. If you suspect that your child may be suffering from a sleep disorder, we encourage you to contact our practice as soon as possible.

What happens if my child’s sleep apnea goes untreated?

Not treating your child’s sleep apnea can put them at severe risk of serious complications throughout their development. Some of these issues include chronic fatigue, hyperactivity, and even growth delays. Not only that, your child may suffer socially since sleep apnea can impact mood and emotional regulation. For information about sleep apnea, contact our practice by calling (215) 739-2543.

Can my child develop a behavioral disorder?

While sleep apnea doesn’t directly cause behavioral issues, it can make your child develop symptoms similar to ADHD. The best way to improve your child’s mood is by getting them the treatment they need to relieve their sleep apnea symptoms. That way, they’ll be able to tackle anything life throws at them by getting a good night’s rest.