A recent study shows a disturbing rise in the number of children suffering from sleep apnea. One of the ways to prevent the problem from getting worse is for your child to undergo early screening, which can allow for detection and treatment before the issue exacerbates. Your sleep dentist goes in-depth about the condition as you read on.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea refers to frequent breaks in your child’s breathing during the sleep cycle. The pauses in breathing can leave your child more susceptible to a host of problems, which will be discussed later.
The most common form of the condition is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is brought on by partial blockages of the airway.
Contributors to OSA
Here are some of the reasons your child may be suffering from OSA:
- Enlarged tonsils – The leading cause of childhood sleep apnea is enlarged tonsils. They can cause a partial blockage of the airway, which can lead to loud snoring and frequent bouts of breathing lapses.
- Obesity – Another prevalent issue on the rise is childhood obesity, which affects 1 in 5 school age children. The increased weight can cause extra neck girth that can inhibit breathing throughout the night.
How to Fight Back
The best way to counteract the effects of sleep apnea is early detection. If you notice any of the following symptoms, you should bring them to your pediatrician’s attention:
- Loud snoring
- Daytime lethargy
- Behavioral issues
- Poor performance at school
- Difficulty concentrating and remaining focused
- Mouth breathing, which is usually a sign of enlarged tonsils
After speaking with your pediatrician, the professional may recommend a sleep test to make a final determination on whether your child has OSA. If the results are positive for obstructive sleep apnea in Arlington Heights, your dentist can then provide the necessary treatment.
There are two main forms of sleep apnea therapy available. One is the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, which consists of a mask that connects to a base unit via a tube. Worn at night, the CPAP machine forces air into the throat to maintain breathing.
For many children, this is an uncomfortable method of treatment. Thus, your sleep dentist offers the alternative of an oral appliance. It is a smaller, silent and more comfortable form of therapy.
If your child has been diagnosed with OSA, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local specialist to get the help you need.
About the Author
Dr. Brian Zulawinski is a graduate of the Indiana University School of Dentistry. He has since gone on to provide nearly 20 years of expert care to his patients. A member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, Dr. Zulawinski helps patients overcome sleep apnea with oral appliances at Sleep Better, and he can be reached for more information through his website.