Sleep apnea affects an estimated 18 million Americans, most of whom are adults. But according to many doctors, those numbers are changing. Doctors are reporting an increase in younger patients -teens and children- with sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is considered a sleep disorder, which means it occurs during sleep and disrupts normal sleep patterns. Apnea has many causes. There are three main types of sleep apnea. The most common amongst adults -and now children- is obstructive sleep apnea or OSA. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a blocked or obstructed airway. This means that when the affected is in a lying position, the airway collapses, causing difficulty breathing and even snoring. It can cause problems in your daily life, too, including cognitive impairment, lethargy, and sleepiness. It may even be responsible for depression and weight gain.
So, what could be causing this rise in childhood sleep apnea cases? Doctors aren’t sure, but they believe it could have something to do with increased weight gain in the population, including in children and teens. This is because they believe excess weight on the neck can push the airway closed. Other studies have found that having a fatter tongue can also contribute to obstructive sleep apnea.
If you suspect your teen could have sleep apnea, here’s what to look and listen for:
- Stopping and starting of snoring and breathing while sleeping
- Daytime lethargy
- Weight gain
- Cognitive impairment
If your child or teen is overweight, speak to your pediatrician about solutions to this problem. Including implementing a diet and exercise program. This may help reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea in your child or teen.
You should also get your teen evaluated for sleep apnea. Your physician can assist with this, as can Dr. Mingus, should you need a referral. Once you have a sleep apnea diagnosis, Dr. Mingus is here to help. Dr. Mingus uses a process called facial growth aesthetics to help grow the face into its proper placement, improving sleep apnea conditions and allowing patients to breathe and sleep easier.
To schedule a consultation with Dr. Mingus, please call the office today at 541-382-6565.