Sleep apnea in children: our complete file!

Published : 08-08-2018 16:35:29
Categories : Child Sleep

Sleep apnea in children: our complete file!

Does your child snore on a regular basis? Do they look exhausted even though they’ve gotten enough sleep? They may suffer from sleep apnea, as 2 to 5% of French children do! Don’t panic, in this article we go over the disorder’s symptoms, which is well-known in adults but often under-diagnosed in children.

What is sleep apnea ?

Sleep apnea in children is characterized byairway obstrution during periods of sleep. This obstruction, which can be partial or total, is generally caused by the muscles in the back of the throat relaxing. Between the ages of 3 and 6 years old, the pharynx is still developing. It is very narrow, and can quickly become obstructed by big tonsils (which are the principal cause of sleep apnea), but also because of the tongue, which tends to slip towards the back of the mouth. Your child’s morphology, particular their face, can also increase the risks of sleep apnea. In addition, obesity can also be an aggravating factor for this disorder, about which little still is known as far as children are concerned. Even today, there aren’t many parents who are conscious enough of it. It is difficult, at first glance, to link snoring, chronic fatigue, and your child’s face with sleep apnea. However, it is important to be vigilant. Aside from the quality of sleep, which is highly diminished, sleep apnea in children can lead to more serious conditions, such as high blood pressure or heart disease.

How to recognize sleep apnea

Luckily, sleep apnea in children has both daytime and nighttime symptoms that are easily identifiable. If your child has one or several of these symptoms, we recommend that you bring it up with your pediatrician or consult an ENT specialist.

  • Your child snores a lot or breathes loudly.
  • Sometimes, when they are sleeping, you can see their chest rising but can’t hear them breathing.
  • In the evening, your child’s nose seems clogged even though they don’t need to blow it.
  • They tend inhale big gulps of air, as if suddenly remembering that they need to breathe.
  • They are often tired even though they are getting the appropriate amount of sleep for their age.
  • They are losing weight or having trouble gaining weight and growing correctly.

It is important to remember that sleep apnea can also be caused by allergies. Further, asthma, genetic factors, and premature birth are all factors that can increase the chances that your child may suffer from sleep apnea.

What are the treatments for sleep apnea

Depending on the sleep apnea’s causes, there are various treatments available. In most cases, the tonsils are too large and are obstructing the pharynx. In such cases, it is necessary to get surgery and remove the soft tissue, a procedure that is known as a tonsillectomy. Of course, surgery can seem scary, especially when our little munchkins are involved! But it is important to talk about it directly with your pediatrician or ENT specialist so you don’t demonize it. If their diagnosis confirms that your child has sleep apnea, getting the operation done could have numerous beneficial effects! Not only will your child be able to sleep better, they will also be less exhausted. If they suffer from attention deficit or behavioral disorders, getting a good night’s sleep can only have positive effects. Note that it is possible that the operation may have to be renewed a few months or years later, as the soft tissue can regrow. If the sleep apnea is caused by maxillo-facial irregularities (face shape), then you will have to head more in the direction of orthodontic treatments such as braces or prostheses. Finally, if the problem is linked with being overweight, then regular physical activity and nutritional monitoring may suffice!

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