What to Look For
When teachers or parents first recognize that a child is having trouble focusing, is anxious, or depressed, they often point to ADHD as the culprit. Sleep breathing disorder can often present itself with many of the same symptoms. Don’t be surprised if your primary care provider is not up on pediatric sleep disorders. It is common for children with SBD to be misdiagnosed due to the common symptoms of SBD, such as sleepiness, trouble focusing, and restlessness. Talk to your Kansas City dentist for treatment.
The first step to solving a problem is identifying that one exists. If you’re concerned that your child might be facing sleep apnea, pay attention to their:
- Behavior – Children with sleep apnea can often be more hyperactive, aggressive, anxious, or withdrawn. While an adult with SBD might be lethargic, children behave differently. This is detrimental for a growing child. They’re learning so much already, but are frustrated because they feel like they can’t learn. In reality, it’s an issue of fragmented sleep and lack of oxygen.
- Physical development – Some key indicators of sleep apnea can be seen. A few examples include bedwetting, growth delays, flatter facial features, and droopier eyes.
- Emotional regulation – Difficulty regulating emotions can be especially damaging to school-age children as it can disrupt their behavior in an environment where they should be focused on learning.
- Learning – Children with sleep apnea find it difficult to learn. Their brains can’t store information, wash away toxic chemicals, or repair cells due to their fragmented sleep. Because of this, it may look like your child has a learning disorder.
- Headaches – Sleep apnea means a lack of oxygen to the brain. Your child may experience morning headaches if they have sleep apnea.
Childhood sleep apnea is a serious condition, but there are treatments available that can help. If you suspect your child may have sleep apnea, please consult a doctor as soon as possible. Childhood sleep apnea can lead to serious health problems if left untreated.
Treatment for Childhood SBD
When childhood sleep apnea is suspected, the first step is to schedule a sleep study. This can be done at a sleep center or, in some cases, at home. A sleep study will help determine if your child has sleep apnea and how severe it is.
Depending on the results of the sleep study, childhood sleep apnea may be treated with
- Positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy. PAP therapy is the most common treatment for childhood sleep apnea. It involves using a machine to deliver gentle, continuous air pressure to keep your child’s airway open while they sleep.
- Oral appliance therapy. An oral appliance is a mouthpiece that is worn during sleep. It helps to keep the airway open by bringing the lower jaw and tongue forward.
- Surgery. In some cases, childhood sleep apnea may be treated with surgery. Surgery is usually only recommended if other treatments have not been successful.
- Guided growth. If your child is young enough, Dr. Raman can help to guide their jaw growth. Not only does this help to lessen the effects of sleep apnea, but it’ll head off jaw problems, such as TMJ, in the future.
Childhood sleep apnea can be a serious condition, but with early diagnosis and treatments, long-term complications can be prevented. Raman Center for TMJ & Sleep is dedicated to understanding and treating childhood sleep breathing disorders.
Tips for Sleep Breathing Disorder (SBD) Management/Resolution
Between the physical, cognitive, and emotional repercussions of dealing with sleep apnea as a child, it is crucial for parents to consult with a Kansas City sleep apnea or neuromuscular dentist. In many cases, it is possible to correct the problem in a growing child instead of managing symptoms. If you’re waiting for your appointment or are looking for more ways to support your child, try these tips:
- Encourage your child to sleep on their side or stomach. This position helps keep the airway open and prevents snoring.
- Make sure your child’s bedroom is free of allergens that could trigger an asthma attack or worsen allergies.
- Avoid letting your child sleep with a stuffed animal or toy that could block their airway.
- Encourage your child to maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is a major risk factor for sleep apnea.
Treat Your Child’s Sleep Apnea in Kansas City
Dr. Raman has a vested interest in ensuring the health and well-being of your child. To learn more about childhood sleep breathing disorders or contact us to inquire about your child. Call (816) 436-4422 or make an appointment online.