As you continue to learn more about sleep apnea, you may be wondering if you should cater only to adults or children as well. While it might be easy to assume that both can be diagnosed and treated in the same way, you will find that younger individuals often show different signs than adults, making it more difficult to discern that there is a problem. We invite you to discover how you can easily identify whether a child is suffering from sleep apnea. Here are a few common signs of childhood sleep apnea you should look for in your patients.
What Signs Are Most Common in Children with Sleep Apnea?
Although all children are different and will show different signs, the most typical symptoms associated with this common disorder include:
- Mouth breathing while asleep
- Sleeping in awkward positions
- Restless sleep
- Daytime fatigue or frequent naps
- Behavioral issues and difficulty concentrating
- Night terrors or sleepwalking
- Teeth grinding
- Excessive sweating
- Growth problems
When treating a child for sleep apnea, you may need to ask the parents about their child’s ability to function throughout the day. Everything from the ease/difficulty of waking up in the morning to falling asleep during the day to experiencing a harder time focusing are all indicators that there is a problem. Also, if your child is sleep-deprived, they may be more hyper. As a result, a doctor may diagnose them with ADD/ADHD. However, if treatment proves unsuccessful, it may be that sleep apnea is the underlying cause, in which case, your child needs the right method of treatment to address these problems.
How to Treat Children with Sleep Apnea
Fortunately, many of the available treatments that can be used on an adult can also be effective for children. While it may be suggested that their adenoids (if enlarged) or tonsils be removed, it is also possible to offer CPAP or oral appliance therapy to a child. Depending on their individual situation and the severity of their sleep apnea, one method may be better than the other.
While working with the child’s parents, you can better identify which solution will likely prove more helpful. While a CPAP is often more cost-effective than oral devices, children may have a difficult time wearing the device and keeping it on throughout the night. An oral appliance may prove to be the better solution, as it is often more comfortable to wear and can be customized to a child’s mouth.
If necessary, a child may also benefit from orthodontics, which can expand and increase the size of the mouth and airway, making it easier for them to breathe as well as address any alignment issues that can negatively impact their facial structure and sleeping patterns.
Knowing how and what to look for when treating a young person for sleep apnea is crucial. While adults and children offer suffer from the same symptoms, it’s important to keep an eye out for signs that only appear in younger patients.
About 21st Century Sleep Seminars
Dr. Kent Smith is a top professional in sleep medicine who has experience in treating, writing, and speaking about sleep disorders. His wealth of knowledge has helped other dentists integrate sleep apnea treatment into their practices. At 21st Century Sleep Seminars, we can provide you with the information, tips, advice, and network of professionals you need to effectively treat the sleep disorders your patients are facing. To learn more, visit our website or call (972) 255-3712.