Obstructive Sleep apnea in children is quite common. Around 2% of preschool children suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. The peak age range of young sleep apnea sufferers is from 2 to 6 years old. At these ages, the tonsil and the adenoidal tissue grow faster than the growth of jaw and palate which will cause the obstruction. The problem can vary from partial airway obstruction to complete obstruction. Despite the fact that many children have been suffering from obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS), it’s not been studying appropriately. In this post, I will show you what are the symptoms of sleep apnea in children and what are the methods that can be used to treat sleep apnea in children (as well as in infants) effectively.
Symptoms of sleep apnea in children
It’s important to make clear that sleep apnea in children is different from what we see in adults. The kids still have difficulty breathing, snoring but it’s not always the case. In young infants, snoring may not occur but you can see they grunt. Children also don’t experience apnea like in adults. However, you will notice that the kids will have restless sleep. They can move while sleeping.
In adults, when a person suffers from obstructive sleep apnea, he or she will easily suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness, excessive drowsiness. This is rarely happening in children. On the contrary, the kids may become hyperactive so they can easily suffer from another common problem in kids, which is ADHD.
Treatment of sleep apnea in children
Here are the possible treatments of sleep apnea in children.
Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy
The most common and effective treatments for OSAS in children are tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. As you can guess, these treatments are surgery therapy. That means short operations will be deployed to remove the tonsil and adenoids to open the airway, in turn, remove all obstruction. In infants, the adenoidectomy alone should do the job.
While tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy are minor operations, they can bring some side effects that make them not the recommended treatments for snoring in kids. Hemorrhage, postoperative
respiratory compromise, velopharyngeal incompetence, nasopharyngeal stenosis, and even death could be the potential bad outcomes that might occur. The highest risk group of children are guys below 3 years old. The majority of children will see their situation improved after the surgery. However, in order to ensure there will be no after-treatment needed, they will need to undergo a polysomnography (PSG –http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polysomnography) from 6 to 8 weeks following the surgery.
Besides the surgery treatments, there are other treatments for sleep apnea in children for you to consider.
Sometimes, lifestyle change is recommended first before applying any other treatments. Losing weight, sleep on side… are recommended and such methods have brought positive effects to many children with obstructive sleep apnea.
Using the CPAP machine
Using CPAP is an effective way to treat sleep apnea in children. However, there is one problem that the mask of the CPAP machine is not usually fit the face of the children due to the shortage of small masks. The side effects of CPAP machine in children is quite similar to what happens in adult: eye irritation, difficulty breathing out, skin lesions…
There are some other treatments that can be applied for children but they are not popular such as Uvulopharyngopalatoplasty (UPPP), supplemental oxygen…