Caring for Children with Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea in children needs a lot of caring and specially the parents of Obstructive and Central Sleep Apnea understand the severity of disorder. More and Complete understanding to protect your children is very important.

Parents of children with Obstructive or Central Sleep Apnea understand the severity of the disorder. There are few things more terrifying than noticing that your child has stopped breathing. As parents, we want the absolute best for our children. If you’re child has a sleeping disorder, like Sleep Apnea, it is the responsibility of the parent to notice symptoms in the child so that they may receive proper treatment.

Recognizing Sleep Apnea in Children They symptoms of childhood Sleep Apnea do not differ greatly from those accompanied with Sleep Apnea in adults. If your child has preexisting health issues like craniofacial abnormalities, neurological syndromes, or large tonsils and adenoids, they are at a greater risk of developing Sleep Apnea. Snoring can be a huge indicator of apnea, but not all children who snore suffer from Sleep Apnea. According to the Pediatric Sleep Laboratory at Emory University School in Atlanta, 7-12% of children snore, but one in three children have Sleep Apnea. Snoring is not the only symptom, so it’s important to be aware of other problems to look out for. Below is a list of symptoms to watch for in your children as they may indicate apnea.

  • Snoring
  • Coughing or Choking at Night
  • Labored Breathing with Periods of Non-Breathing
  • The Rib Cage Moves Inward During Inspiration
  • Waking Up Frequently at Night
  • Sweating During Sleep
  • Nightmares
  • Bedwetting
  • Mouth Breathing During Sleep
  • Overextended During Sleep
  • Headaches
  • Restless Sleep/Tossing and Turning
  • Behavioral Issues Like Hyperactivity
  • Sleep Deprivation or Daytime Sleepiness
  • Extreme Moodiness
  • Frequent Needs to Nap
  • Problems With Growth or Weight Gain
  • Heart Problems
  • Poor Memory and Concentration
  • Drop in Grades
  • Poor Appetite
  • Sinus Issues

Many of the symptoms that children of Sleep Apnea show are common problems in children. Don’t automatically jump to the conclusion that your child is suffering from the sleep disorder, but be sure not to brush off any symptoms as typical childhood behavior. Talk to your primary care doctor about any concerns that you may have regarding symptoms and causes of Sleep Apnea in your children. Sleep Apnea in Infants and Newborns Sleep Apnea is unfortunately common in infant children and newborns. Sleep Apnea in newborns is categorized by breathing lapses of at lease twenty seconds. Many babies experience periodic breathing- pauses in breathing lasting a few seconds; this is NOT Sleep Apnea. In addition to 20 second breathing lapses, color changes in the skin and the decreasing of heart rate accompanies newborns with Sleep Apnea. Babies with accompanying medical issues like Cyanosis or Bradycardia are more likely to develop Sleep Apnea. For parents of an infant with Sleep Apnea, there are many things that the parent can do to help; most of the treatment must come from medical professionals and their care. Doctors will teach these parents how to perform CPR, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, in case the infant does not resume breathing after an apnea episode. CPR will cause breathing to reassume and get the heart pumping blood again. During most apnea episodes in infants, gently stroking the baby will cause them to awaken and resume breathing. If your doctor sends you home with medication or monitoring equipment for your child, make sure you have a thorough understanding of how to use and respond to them. Treating the Problems that Accompany Apnea in Children Most infants with Sleep Apnea will grow out of the problem after some time, but Sleep Apnea still occurs in children. Proper sleep in children is vital for proper development. Children who suffer from Sleep Apnea experience negative side-effects of the disorder in most areas of their lives. As a parent, caring for a child with the disorder does not stop with noticing the symptoms of Sleep Apnea or consulting a qualified medical professional for diagnosis and treatment. Responsible parents must give their attention, guidance, support, and assistance in all areas of a child’s life that are affected by the problem.

  • Behavioral Problems: Sleep deprivation can lead to extreme irritability and moodiness in children. Many children suffering from Sleep Apnea have a tendency to “act out” in school or at home, and parents may experience trouble disciplining these children. In many cases, childhood Sleep Apnea is misdiagnosed as a Hyperactivity disorder. If your child has been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, or is showing signs of hyperactivity, don’t rule out Sleep Apnea as a potential cause.
  • Growth Problems: Because Sleep Apnea disrupts sleep in its victims, children suffering are not receiving the benefits of proper sleep. During sleep, the body releases growth hormones necessary for physical development. Children that are growing too slowly or not all, experiencing development problems, or are experiencing problems with weight maintenance or weight gain may be suffering from growth hormone loss caused by Sleep Apnea. A child who is producing inadequate amounts of the growth hormone experience delays in bone growth and teeth development; they may also stop growing before their full height is reached because the growing plates in the long bones of the body close. Parents should look into growth hormone therapy for these children. Human Growth Hormone injections may be the answer to combating hormone loss in children with apnea.
  • Colds and Allergies: The overproduction of mucus is a large cause of Obstructive Sleep Apnea in children. Parents may reduce the risk of apnea occurrences in their children by effectively treating underlying allergies, colds, or respiratory infections.
  • Poor Grades: Sleep deprivation that accompanies children with apnea often causes the child to experience poor concentration or memory loss. Problems with focus and concentration often result in the child receiving lower grades. Children with Sleep Apnea will most likely need extra attention outside of school in order to maintain good grades. Be available to help your child with their schoolwork at home; if not, their future will suffer greatly from a poor education.
  • Obesity: Overweight children are much more likely to have Sleep Apnea. If your child is overweight or obese, help them to lose weight. Make sure that there are fun exercises you can do together that will make your child WANT to exercise. Don’t reward your children with food; it sets a poor example and causes the child to associate food with happiness.
  • Eat Together: Eating with your child can positively affect their Sleep Apnea case. Eating together at the same time every night will help your child adopt a balanced eating schedule. In addition to maintaining a healthy schedule you’re your kids, eating together gives you an opportunity to teach them to eat slowly. Make sure they don’t eat anything heavy before bedtime, and try including balanced meals with vitamins and minerals into your lifestyle. Teach your children about healthy foods, and stay away from fast-foods.
  • Bedtime Routine: Adopt a specific bedtime routine with your child. This may consist of bathing or reading a book in the hour before bed. Performing a bedtime routine consistently will help train the child’s brain to associate the routine with sleep. The routine will help the body begin to unwind and relax for bed. Also, don’t let your child be too active before bed; exercise promotes alertness.
  • Be Supportive: The best way to help a child with Sleep Apnea is to be supportive of them. Make sure your child understands that you will be available and willing to offer any answers or assistance that you are capable of. Proper support from loving parents will help the child feel normal and safe.

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