Sleep apnea commonly affects adults, but your child may also develop this dangerous sleep disorder. While surprising for many parents to learn, an estimated 1 to 10 percent of children will develop obstructive sleep apnea. Unfortunately, many of these disorders go undiagnosed. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, your child will not be able to get a sufficient amount of sleep. In addition, the periodic breathing lapses can be dangerous for your child. Using this guide, you will understand the signs of this sleep disorder and learn the best options for treating your child's sleep apnea.

Signs of Sleep Apnea

A child with sleep apnea will experience similar symptoms as an adult with the condition. If your child is displaying the following symptoms, they may be suffering with sleep apnea:

  • Loud snoring
  • Breathing pauses while asleep
  • Heavy breathing while asleep
  • Restless sleep, constant moving
  • Bedwetting
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Depression or anxiety due to fatigue
  • Behavior issues due to lack of sleep

Consult your child's physician if they are experiencing the above signs. In most cases, your child will need to undergo an overnight sleep study to diagnose sleep apnea.

Treatment Options

CPAP therapy forces air into the airway through a mask and hose that is connected to a machine. While effective for treating sleep apnea, many children are uncomfortable wearing the mask while sleeping. Due to this difficulty, your doctor may suggest a different form of treatment.

If your child's adenoids and tonsils are oversized or constantly swollen, they will struggle breathing while asleep. In these situations, an adenotonsillectomy will be necessary to treat your child's sleep apnea.

Your child's dentist also offers solutions to treat sleep apnea. OAT, or Oral Appliance Therapy, is an effective option, as well. This device is worn in your child's mouth while sleeping to prevent the tongue and throat tissues from collapsing. Oral appliance therapy helps your child's throat remain open while asleep, reducing their number of breathing lapses.

Orthodontic treatment may also be suggested to treat pediatric cases of sleep apnea. A palatal expander may be affixed to your child's teeth, as well. Each day, you will insert and turn a key, allowing the device to expand your child's upper set of teeth. Orthodontic expansion not only corrects a misaligned bite, but it also enlarges the airway to improve your child's breathing while asleep.

Sleep apnea is a common condition that affects people of all ages, but watching your child suffer with the disorder can be overwhelming. Using this guide and the help of your dentist and doctor, you will be able to understand and treat your child's sleep apnea. For more info, contact a clinic like All About Smiles Incorporated.