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Sleep Apnea in Children

Does your child snore at night? Does your child over the age of seven years old still wet the bed? Is your child hyperactive or sluggish during the day? These could be signs of a sleep disorder called sleep apnea. Believe it or not, these behaviors are not typical in children above the age of seven and could be signaling a bigger problem.

In adults, sleep apnea can cause or contribute to myriad side effects including depression, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and even Alzheimer’s disease, but in children, those side effects look a little different.

In addition to hyperactivity, lethargy, bedwetting, and snoring, sleep apnea in children also includes the telltale ‘stopping and starting’ of breathing during sleep, and frequent waking during sleep as well.

Children with these symptoms can suffer during the waking hours by struggling with sports and academics, to name just a few.

Sometimes, sleep apnea can occur in children who need to have their tonsils removed, but not in every case. In some children, it may be beneficial to treat sleep apnea in a similar fashion as you would an adult with sleep.

Currently, there are several popular methods to treat sleep apnea. The first, most widely recognized method is called CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy. CPAP therapy uses a machine that forces air into the airway, propping the airway open during sleep. Unfortunately, many people do not like CPAP therapy because it requires the use of an awkward face mask and uncomfortable tubing.

Another popular option for those with sleep apnea is the use of a sleep orthotic, which positions the jaw in such a way that it allows the wearer to breathe easily as they sleep. This is done without a mask or complicated machinery.

Sleep orthotics are generally considered much more comfortable and thus are more likely to be used by the sleep apnea patient, helping them to avoid or mitigate some of the dangerous side effects of sleep apnea.

If you would like to learn more about sleep apnea and sleep orthotics, please contact Dr. Mingus’s office for a consultation today.