Yes. Sleep apnea is one of the disorders which can easily plague adults and children alike. Sleep apnea in children tends to be more discomforting in the case of children, given their tendency to be fragile. Similar to sleep apnea in adults, sleep apnea in children is characterized by infrequencies in breath during the night. These infrequencies might be caused due to any obstructions in the airways or other health conditions. Children between the ages of 2 to 8 tend to mostly suffer from sleep apnea however; older children are likely to suffer from it too. There are various signs and symptoms which might indicate if your child is suffering from sleep apnea.
Signs and Symptoms – How to know if your child is suffering?
There is a high chance that your child is suffering from sleep apnea if he is showing the following signs and symptoms:
- Snoring: If your child is suddenly snoring throughout the night, it is quite possible that he is struggling to breathe which is an indication of sleep apnea.
- Tossing and Turning: If your child tosses and turns all night long or for a major part of it, it could mean that he is suffering from sleep apnea.
- Frequent night sweats which arise out of struggle for breath are indicative of sleep apnea in children as well.
- Irritability and hyperactivity during the day is a possibility of sleep apnea as well.
- Gasping and bed wetting during the night is also indicative of pediatric sleep apnea.
Treatment – How can you help your child fight it?
Your child can fight sleep apnea if proper treatment is provided to him/her. It is imperative to ensure that your child receives proper care and treatment for this disorder as it can lead to complications if it persists.
- In case childhood obesity is leading to sleep apnea, limiting your child’s calcium intake and introducing dietary counselling could prove to be beneficial.
- As mentioned above children with sleep apnea often find it hard to carry out their regular activities. To avoid this, their activity could be limited in order to save them unnecessary fatigue.
- Oxygen therapy could be introduced to children suffering from mild sleep apnea.
- In cases of nasal congestion, it is suitable to introduce antihistamine or antimuscarinic therapy.
- CPAP for children can also be a good option for children as it is non-invasive and can help in regulating a healthy flow of air to their brain.
Long Term Effects – How dangerous can sleep apnea be to children?
As mentioned above, if not provided with proper care children might develop serious complications growing up due to sleep apnea. These long term effects include:
- Social and Behavioral Deficiencies: Children with sleep apnea might develop behavioral issues such as irritability and attention deficiency disorders. These might cause children to become moody and anti-social.
- Growth Hormone Deficiencies: Children who suffer from sleep apnea might develop growth hormone deficiencies which might prove to be challenging to their growth process.
- Cardiovascular Diseases: Sleep apnea is known to have a stressful effect on the heart. If children suffer from it at an early age, it puts them at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.