How to know if your child has sleep apnea

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Children are usually more active and sleep better and deeper than adults. But as we age and our circadian rhythm changes, the quality of sleep naturally deteriorates. However, not all children sleep as well as we expect them to. Children suffering from sleep apnea have a tendency to restless sleep, snore a lot, and have nightmares. Lack of sleep makes these children lethargic and leads to attention problems at school, which affects their learning and development.

More children than before may suffer from sleep apnea due to sedentary lifestyles, prevalence of obesity and poor diet.

“Enlargement of adeno-tonsils and obesity are the most common causes of obstructive sleep apnea in childhood. OSA is also common in premature babies, babies with small jaws or neuromuscular disorders, ”says Dr. Vinay Kumar Rai (MBBD, MD (Pediatrics), DNB). (Neonatology) Pediatrician / Neonatologist, Manipal Hospital, Dwarka, New Delhi.

ALSO READ: Research shows obstructive sleep apnea, common in children, affects heart health.

But what is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder caused by repeated collapse of the upper airways during sleep, which leads to complete or partial obstruction of the upper airways.

“OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) occurs when the muscles that support the soft tissues of the throat relax during sleep, causing the airways to close partially or even completely, temporarily interrupting the baby’s breathing,” says Dr. Rye.

Obstructive sleep apnea symptoms

* Snoring

* Difficulty or labored breathing while the baby is sleeping

* Daytime sleepiness

* Hyperactivity

* Behavior or learning problems

If you notice that your child is not getting enough sleep at night and is having difficulty concentrating on his studies or has trouble breathing while sleeping, you should contact your doctor immediately.

Research shows obstructive sleep apnea, common in children, affects heart health (Unsplash)

“Typical signs of sleep disturbance, difficulty breathing or sleep apnea, anxiety about school performance, behavior changes, inability to concentrate or focus, and daytime sleepiness suggests OSAS. Sleep test or polysomnography (PSG) is a confirmatory test. on OSA in children, ”says Dr. Rye.

You should not take OSAS lightly, as refusing treatment can lead to complications such as hypertension, obesity, diabetes, ADHD, depression, or developmental delay in your child.

“A delay in diagnosis and inadequate treatment of OSAS can lead to hypertension in children. Other consequences of untreated OSAS are pulmonary hypertension, obesity, diabetes, attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder, major depressive disorder or developmental delay, ”says the expert.

Sleep apnea treatment

Sleep apnea can be treated and treatments and medications are available depending on the underlying cause.

“Lifestyle changes and exercise will help if obesity is the cause of OSA. Depending on the cause of OSA, adenotonsillectomy, other available treatments for OSA in children are drugs such as Montelukast and BiPAP / CPAP. Few children need surgery, says the doctor.

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