New Epidemic–Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Children

OSA in childrenScotts Valley and Santa Cruz, CA

Sleep-disordered breathing (SBD) is a term used for breathing difficulties that occur while sleeping. SBD may include loud snoring or episodes of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which involve partial or complete airway blockages that impede airflow during sleep. OSA results in an increased blood pressure, lower oxygen levels in the blood, and it wakes the brain during the deep stage of the sleep cycle.

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgeries, 10% of children have sleep-disordered breathing, while approximately 2-4% have obstructive sleep apnea. What is startling is that a recent study indicates that even a mild case of SBD may have the same damaging effects as OSA has on a child.

Does my child have obstructive sleep apnea?

One of the most telltale signs of sleep apnea is loud snoring. While occasional snoring during bouts of congestion is normal, snoring most nights is not. A child with OSA may also make gasping or choking noises while sleeping as they struggle to breathe in enough air while sleeping. Due to a lack of quality sleep, a child with OSA may exhibit behavioral symptoms such as irritability, difficulty focusing, hyperactivity, or even feel fatigued throughout the day. Bed-wetting has also been noted as a symptom of OSA. However, the best way to determine if your child has SBD is to seek a consult with sleep apnea specialists in Scotts Valley at Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry. To schedule your consultation, please call (831) 438-4411.

What causes obstructive sleep apnea and why is it a big deal?

There are various factors why your child may have OSA including being overweight, having a narrow dental arch, abnormalities of the lower jaw, neuromuscular deficits such as cerebral palsy, or having enlarged tonsils and adenoids.

OSA can be detrimental to a child in various ways. They may be embarrassed about their snoring, making it difficult to spend the night away or have friends over for a sleepover. Behavioral issues or learning difficulties may arise as your child is unable to remain focused and concentrate on academics during class. Enuresis is another issue when it comes to OSA, as the lower oxygen levels increase urine output, which could lead to bed-wetting. Children with OSA may also grow at an abnormally slow rate, are more likely to become obese, and have an increased risk of heart and lung problems.

How is obstructive sleep apnea diagnosed?

Diagnosing OSA can be as simple as performing an airway evaluation. In some instances, X-rays may be needed to assess the size of the airway. Sometimes a sleep study may be necessary to determine the severity of your child’s sleep apnea, which in turn determines the best method of treatment.

Pediatric Sleep Apnea Evaluation in Scotts Valley

Treatment for sleep apnea in children may vary, depending on the exact cause and severity of their issue. To learn more about pediatric sleep apnea, or to determine if your child has this potentially devastating health issue, please contact Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry at (831) 438-4411 to schedule an evaluation.

We welcome patients of Scotts Valley, Los Gatos, and Santa Cruz.