A Parent’s Guide to Sleep Apnea in Children

Sleep Apnea: Why is this Significant?

Why is this Significant?

Sleep apnea is a gateway disease to a myriad of serious life-altering conditions. When occurring in childhood, it can cause serious brain damage that may develop into behavioral and learning disabilities and even cardiovascular disorders if left untreated. Childhood sleep apnea may stem from various sources, most common of which are enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids and childhood obesity. Other causes include congenital malformations, neuromuscular diseases, hypothyroidism, sickle cell diseases, and cerebral palsy. The key to beating childhood sleep apnea is keeping an eye out for early signs and getting an early diagnosis. Due to lack of universally accepted guidelines in determining the need for treatment, childhood sleep apnea is often misdiagnosed until it’s severe enough to be identified. Surgical intervention is available to completely resolve sleep apnea in children with tonsil and adenoid hypertrophy, but it’s best to first find out the underlying cause of the enlargement to explore non-invasive alternatives. When surgery is not indicated, breathing treatments and weight management in children with childhood obesity are strongly recommended.

Children with sleep apnea need all the support they can get to deal with the consequences of their disease. Parents are the primary support system and instrumental in the success of the child in his or her battle against sleep apnea.