Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Children (Pedo OSA)

Symptoms

  • Snore, have labored breathing or stop breathing during sleep
  • Rib cage that moves inward as the child inhales
  • Have body movements and arousals from sleep
  • Sweat during sleep
  • Sleep with neck overextended
  • Have excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Be hyperactive or exhibit aggressive behavior
  • Poor school performance
  • Lack of concentration
  • Have a slow rate of growth
  • Have morning headaches
  • Bedwetting
  • Night terrors
  • Sleep walking / talking

Diagnosis

This is a serious disorder that should be diagnosed and treated.  If you feel your child has Pedo OSA, discuss this with your pediatrician and asked to be referred to a sleep specialist who specializes in children.  A sleep specialist will review your child’s history and symptoms.  If needed, the doctor will schedule your child for an overnight sleep study.  This kind of study is called a polysomnogram.  It is the best way to evaluate your child’s sleep.  With the results of this study the doctor will be able to develop an individual treatment plan for your child.

It is also important to know if there is something else that is causing or contributing to your child’s sleep problems.  These could include:

  • Another airway disorder
  • Medication use
  • A mental health disorder
  • Substance abuse
  • Constricted dental arches
  • Mouth breathing
  • Tongue tie
  • Obesity

Describe the problems you have observed and when you first noticed them.  Let the doctor know if your child recently gained a lot of weight.  Provide the doctor with your child’s complete medical history.

If your doctor thinks your child has a problem with breathing during sleep, then your child may need an overnight sleep study.  It charts your child’s brain waves, heartbeat, and breathing during sleep.  It also records ar and leg movement.  The sleep study will reveal if your child has OSA.  It also will show the severity of the problem.  The study requires your child to spend the night at the sleep center.  A parent or guardian also will need to stay at the sleep center with the child.  In rare cases a doctor may use another test to evaluate your child’s upper airway.  Examples include endoscopy and magnetic resonance imaging.

Treatment

  • Adenotonsillectomy is the most common treatment for OSA in children.  This surgery involves the removal of the adenoids and tonsils.  It reduces the obstruction and increases the size of the upper airway.  As a result the child is able to breathe normally.  Some children may continue to have OSA even after adenotonsillectomy.
  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is another treatment option for children.  It may be used if surgery is not an option or if OSA persists after surgery.  CPAP delivers a steady stream of air through a mask worn over the nose or face.  The air gently blows into the back of the throat.  This keeps the airway open so your child is able to breathe during sleep.
  • Overweight or obese children will benefit from weight loss.  This can reduce the frequency and severity of OSA.  Usually weight loss is combined with another treatment option.
  • Some children may benefit from dental arch expansion using dental expanders.
  • Myofunctional therapy to establish nasal breathing and proper tongue posture.

If you suspect your child has OSA and unsure where to go, come in for a consultation.  At TMJ-Ortho-Sleep Centre we are here to help.