A recent study has shown that sleep-related breathing problems, such as sleep apnea, may double the risk of a child becoming obese by the age of 15. The study followed almost 2,000 children for a period of 15 years and showed that those children who suffered from high to extreme sleep apnea symptoms were twice as likely to become obese by 7, 10, and 15 years of age, compared to children who did not show any sleep apnea symptoms.
How Do I Know if My Child Has Sleep Apnea?
There are several symptoms that might be caused by childhood sleep apnea. If your child presents these symptoms, take them to a sleep specialist so that they can receive proper diagnosis and treatment.
- Recurrent snoring
- Long pauses in breathing while asleep
- Excessive tossing and turning while asleep
- Chronic mouth breathing while asleep
- Night sweats due to the increased breathing difficulty
- Signs of exhaustion during the day
- Difficulty paying attention or performing tasks during the day
How Do I Treat Sleep Apnea?
The most common treatment for childhood sleep apnea is surgically removing the adenoids and tonsils. In cases that do not present any complications, this procedure results in a complete elimination of sleep apnea symptoms 70 to 80 percent of the time. If removal of the adenoid and tonsils is not recommended by a sleep specialist or if the symptoms persist after the procedure, the use of a CPAP mask is usually recommended. The CPAP mask should be regarded as a way to treat the symptoms rather than a cure. A sleep specialist should determine the optimal pressure settings for the CPAP and yearly studies should be conducted to determine any necessary changes in the treatment. Oral appliances can also be prescribed as a form of sleep apnea treatment for adolescents whose facial bone is fully grown. For children suffering from sleep apnea and obesity, nutritional management and exercise are encouraged. If you suspect that your child suffers from sleep apnea, let Dr. Raza Pasha provide them with the best care. Dr. Pasha is a certified sleep specialist and has successfully treated plenty of sleep apnea patients.