Sleep Apnea is a condition that affects as many as 5% of children, much lower than the incidence of Sleep Apnea in adults which can be as high as 26 %. While something as simple as snoring happens among many children, snoring can also be a signal that your child may have Sleep Apnea. Snorting, gasping and or squeaking sounds while snoring, may further indicate Sleep Apnea may be present. It is also important to remember that snoring associated with Sleep Apnea may not be loud.
Symptoms of sleep apnea in children vary for each individual case but may include the following:
Bedwetting: Experts have found that sleep-disordered breathing (SBD) can cause increased nighttime urine production, a condition known as enuresis.
Obesity: Children suffering from sleep apnea have been found to be more resistant to insulin. In addition, this condition can cause daytime drowsiness and reduced activity, further complicating issues with weight.
Slow growth rate: Studies have found children suffering from sleep apnea have lower levels of growth hormone; this can inhibit both growth and development.
High blood pressure; heart and lung problems: Adults have been shown to have increased risk of cardiovascular problems as well when they suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
Difficulties learning: Studies have shown that children diagnosed with sleep apnea have an array of learning issues, similar to ADHD. They may also experience issues with behavior, aggressive tendencies and problems acting out. The good news is that these problems improve dramatically for most children once they are treated.
While causes of sleep apnea differ, experts attribute the most common cause to be associated with enlarged adenoids and tonsils. However, childhood obesity and chronic allergies are also attributed to obstructive sleep apnea. Fortunately for most children symptoms improve once treatment is underway.