Sleep apnea in children can no longer be considered a rarity, as increasingly it is quite commonly found even in quite young children. Sleep apnea essentially results in hindering the breathing process, as it results in regular pauses in breathing. By itself it can be quite detrimental, but the case of sleep apnea in children is even more dangerous and hence needs to be treated effectively and quickly.
To be able to treat those children suffering from sleep apnea, it is important to understand the causes and types of the disorder. Sleep apnea in children usually occurs in two types: Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Central Sleep Apnea.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Children
This is considered to be the most common type of sleep apnea in children, and even healthy kids can fall prey to this sleep disorder. Essentially this is a cause of any obstruction in the air passageway of the child, which is usually associated with enlarged tonsils or even adenoids.
Central Sleep Apnea in Children
Though this type is not as common as the previous type, this type of sleep apnea in children usually occurs in much smaller kids, and often new borns. The main cause of this disorder is the failure of the brain to send instructions to the throat muscles to actually take breath. It might sound amusing, but often the body fails to regulate breathing correctly and as a result leads to this type of disorder. Although you need not be too worried if your child suffers from central sleep apnea, as most kids grow out of it as they start growing.
Being able to recognize these different types of sleep apnea in children is definitely the biggest challenge when it come to such a disorder. Unlike adults, who have a better understanding of their body and can express any discomfort, children can’t, and hence it is essential for the parent to be able to recognize the symptoms. Usually the symptoms of sleep apnea in children include heavy and irregular breathing, restlessness at nights in particular, regular daytime sleeping, turning a shade of pale blue due to lack of oxygen etc.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it is advisable to get your kid immediately checked out, as it is not worth ignoring it and hoping it will be fine the next day. Sleep apnea in children can result in extremely serious conditions if not treated early on and allowed to worsen. Some of these possible problems could include learning disabilities, heart problems, attention problems, blood pressure related issues etc.
In terms of treatment options for sleep apnea in children, a doctor or specialist in the field will be the best judge. Often doctors have to remove the tonsils to treat the disorder, and if not that they temporarily treat the child with a commonly used machine known as CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure. This machine ensures that sufficient air reaches the lungs by applying continuous pressure, ensuring there are no blockages in the airway. In more severe cases of sleep apnea in children, doctors might be required to perform a surgery, but that is quite rare.