Sleep apnea affects 6-8% of all children. Unfortunately, itʼs signs and symptoms can be subtle or attributed to other conditions leading to a missed diagnosis. An example is that of young people diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), perhaps 30-40% have an obstructive sleep disorder contributing to that issue. If the sleep problem is not corrected, treatment of ADD or ADHD becomes much more difficult.
Snoring in a child should always be evaluated. Very few children with sleep apnea actually stop breathing (an apnea) so using this as a “sign” is not effective. Additionally, most of the time when these issues arise, children are sleeping separate from their parents so the symptoms may go unnoticed for some time. Also, sleep apnea is often portrayed as an adult problem, so that many parents donʼt realize it is a possibility for their child and never think to mention snoring or bedtime restlessness to their pediatrician.
Signs that can appear in a child are:
- restless sleeping-”kicking the covers off” when they sleep
- poor attention span -including ADD and ADHD
- bed wetting
- poor school performance
- poor growth
- certain dental findings (such as a narrow, high arched palate, an underdeveloped lower jaw)
Untreated obstructive sleep disorders can lead to difficulty in school due to the issues with concentration and memory. Fortunately, identification of the disorder and proper treatment can correct these deficiencies.
Dr. Hester has extensive experience in the field of pediatric sleep disorders and will be able to provide a comprehensive evaluation and treatment program for your child.
Treatment options include:
Non Invasive Treatments
- Orthodontic referral: some of the issues affecting the jaw or palate can be corrected by an orthodontist and can assist in widening the airway. If this is the case, we can refer you to several experienced orthodontists in our area.
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP): this is a device the child would wear during sleep that uses a stream of positive pressure air, therefore “stenting” the airway and preventing it from collapsing.
Minimally Invasive Treatments
- Radiofrequency: radiofrequency is used to shrink or slightly reshape anatomical issues that cause airway obstruction. This treatment is used to improve the turbinates (spongy tissue inside the nose), palate and/or the tongue.
- Straightening the nasal septum (septoplasty)
- Reconstructive jaw surgery
Only after a thorough examination can the best options be found for a childʼs sleep apnea. Contact us here at Dr. Hesterʼs office and schedule a consultation. One simple phone call can transform your childʼs life-which will transform yours! We look forward to helping you find the solution one healthy breath at a time.