Sleep apnea does not just impact adults – children can also suffer from this condition. As with adults, sleep apnea in children occurs when the muscles of the upper airway relax enough to reduce or obstruct airflow. Here at Advanced Sleep & TMJ Center of New Jersey, we are committed to providing care that will help your child get the rest they need to stay healthy and grow and develop properly.
Undiagnosed sleep apnea often contributes to daytime fatigue and behavior problems. Following a night of poor sleep, children are more likely to be hyperactive and have difficulty paying attention. They may also show signs of ADHD, and sleep apnea can contribute to delayed growth and cardiovascular problems.
Common nighttime symptoms of children with sleep apnea include:
- Loud snoring and snoring on a regular basis
- Pauses, gaps and snorts while asleep
- Periods where your child stops breathing
- Disrupted sleep, often as a result of gasping or snorting that wakes your child
- Restless sleep
- Sleeping with their head in an unusual position
- Sweating heavily during sleep
- Mouth breathing while asleep
Common daytime symptoms of children with sleep apnea include:
- Behavioral, social and school problems
- Difficulty in waking up
- Headaches during the day, and especially in the morning
- Irritable, agitated, aggressive and cranky behavior
- Extreme daytime sleepiness, sometimes to the point where they actually fall asleep
- Regular mouth breathing
- Speaking with a nasally voice
What is normal sleep behavior for a toddler?
Your toddler may do many things while asleep, some of which may seem strange or alarming. Most sleep actions are normal and are not a cause for concern, but actions such as snoring, snorting and mouth breathing may be worth checking into.
Snoring, Snorting and Mouth Breathing
If your toddler snores, makes snorting sounds or breathes through the mouth we recommend that you let her doctor know. If your toddler only snores once in a while or when they have a cold your doctor will probably say that they are fine, but frequent snoring can be a sign of other problems and we recommend that you always check with your child’s doctor just in case.
If a cold or stuffy nose is to blame you can try using a vaporizer or humidifier to make breathing more comfortable. If your child has pet allergies try to keep their bedroom free of pets.
If your toddler snores loudly, pauses between breaths or seems to work hard to breathe, they may have sleep apnea. The most common cause of sleep apnea in children are enlarge tonsils and adenoids, though other factors such as being overweight, having a receding chin or a cleft palate may also contribute to this condition. Sleep apnea in children peaks between the ages of 3 and 6, but children younger than 3 may also have this condition.
Sleep Apnea Treatment for Children
There are just as many ways to treat sleep apnea in children as there are for adults, if not more! In addition to CPAP machines and oral appliance therapy, there are appliances and treatments that focus on helping your child’s airway develop properly. Because children are still growing, Dr. Ally can help prevent future airway problems by making sure the head, nose and throat grows in a healthy and natural way. Dr. Ally will help determine if your child has sleep apnea and if so which type of treatment will be most beneficial to them.
To learn more about sleep apnea in children in Little Silver and Red Bank, New Jersey, and schedule your child’s appointment with Dr. Ally, please contact Advanced Sleep & TMJ Center of New Jersey today at 877-652-7632. We will work with your child and your child’s pediatrician to ensure that they receive the care they need.