At our sleep clinic, we treat sleep apnea and know that this condition can impact virtually anyone. It is significantly more common in adults and can be exacerbated by being overweight or drinking alcohol before bed. Still, children have been known to develop obstructive sleep apnea, as well.
What are the signs of sleep apnea?
If a child is constantly snoring, gasping for air, or making choking noises in their sleep, they could have obstructive sleep apnea. Some children with sleep conditions also have difficulty sleeping soundly, wet the bed even after being potty-trained, or are restless sleepers. If their bed looks like they have been tossing and turning all night and they are sleepy, regardless of how much rest they received, they could have obstructive sleep apnea.
What is sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea forms when the lower jaw falls backward during sleep and the tongue falls back as a result. When the tongue blocks the airway, it becomes impossible to breathe clearly, and so the body spends the night struggling for oxygen. This is why many people will snore or make noises in their sleep. Granted, a child can also be making these noises due to the common cold or a sinus infection.
Rule these out first, and if the problem persists, the parent needs to seek a medical professional. This is a serious condition that can impact their quality of life and even their performance in school. This is because the body needs oxygen to function. If a child does not get enough of it, they will be too tired to function properly, to concentrate in school, and to fight off illnesses.
How do you treat sleep apnea?
Our solution is non-invasive, making it an ideal treatment for children. If we determine they do have sleep apnea, we will make an impression of their mouth and take measurements. We will send this information to the dental lab to create a removable oral appliance. This device will be made of plastic and look similar to a retainer. All they need to do is slip it in place before bedtime and fall asleep like normal.
It may take a few nights for them to get used to wearing it, but the appliance itself is comfortable and should not cause any problems or disruption to their sleep. Instead, it should help them to receive the high quality of rest they need to feel refreshed, energized, and ready to go about their day.
When you visit our sleep clinic, we may recommend that your child have an at-home sleep study to determine whether or not they have this condition. We can show you how to use the machine to test their quality of breathing or if you prefer, we can refer you to the hospital for an overnight sleep study. Most children prefer the at-home test, but we can discuss these options with you further during their examination.
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