Kids should get anywhere from 9 to 13 hours of sleep each night (toddlers even more), so you want to ensure your child is hitting this crucial goal. For kids, good restorative sleep is vital for development, learning, and memory.
Unfortunately, between 3% and 6% of kids in the United States have sleep apnea, a disorder that disrupts sleep throughout the night.
As specialists in pediatric ear, nose, and throat, including sleep disorders, Dr. Timothy Queen and the team here at Advanced ENT & Allergy understand the impact sleep apnea can have on kids, and we’re here to help solve the issue.
The first step is recognizing an issue, so we’re reviewing a few key signs of sleep apnea in kids here.
Sleep apnea — a breathing problem
While we label sleep apnea as a sleep disorder, it’s really a breathing issue that occurs when your child sleeps. There are two types of sleep apnea, and far and away, the most common is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), so we’ll stick with this type in this article.
With OSA, soft tissues at the back of your child’s throat collapse or move while they sleep and block their airways. When they can’t breathe, their brain wakes them just enough to clear their throats, and then they fall back to sleep. This cycle repeats itself throughout the night, sometimes dozens of times an hour, robbing your child of critical deep sleep.
Signs of sleep apnea in kids
The hallmark of OSA in both kids and adults is snoring. This snoring is more like gasping and choking periodically with heavy breathing and snoring between the throat clearing. When the tissues start to block the airways, there are usually periods of silence before the choking and gasping for air.
Outside of noisy sleep, your child might also develop other symptoms or side effects, such as:
- Night sweats
- Sleepwalking or sleeptalking
- Headaches in the morning
- Daytime fatigue
- Irritability due to lack of sleep
- Inattentiveness and lack of focus during the day
It’s also worth noting that sleep apnea in kids tends to strike between the ages of 2 and 6, though it can develop at any age.
Back to sleep with sleep apnea treatments
If you suspect your child has sleep apnea, it’s essential to see us so that we can resolve the issue and your child can get good-quality sleep.
The primary causes of sleep apnea in kids include:
- Enlarged tonsils
- Large adenoids
- Severe overbite
Some factors can place your child at risk for sleep apnea, such as allergies or obesity.
Once we determine what’s behind your child’s sleep disorder, we can target the underlying problem to improve their sleep.
For expert detection and treatment of sleep apnea in kids, please contact our office in Newport News, Virginia, to schedule an appointment.