What causes sleep apnea in children and assist them get extra ZZZs

Sleep is essential for helping kids re-charge, but children with sleep apnea don’t get the rest they need.

About one in every 50 kids will develop obstructive sleep apnea, a that can cause pauses in breathing that affect sleep quality and lead to daytime , behavior issues, and more.

“If you look at the bottom third of a classroom in performance, over half those kids will have undiagnosed sleep apnea,” said Dr. Floyd Livingston, a pediatric pulmonologist at Nemours Children’s Hospital.

Livingston said many kids with sleep apnea will be misdiagnosed as being hyperactive. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, as many as 25% of kids diagnosed with ADHD may actually have sleep apnea.

And while most cases of sleep apnea in are caused by obesity, enlarged tonsils and adenoids are usually to blame in children. The most often affects children between ages 2 and 8.


“That’s when kids are growing the fastest. So they’re increasing in height but their width is not increasing as quickly so their airway resistance goes up during that time,” Livingston told Ivanhoe.

Some common symptoms to watch out for include: snoring, gasping for breath, night sweats, bedwetting, sleepwalking, and choking during sleep.

The good news is surgery to remove enlarged tonsils and adenoids can help kids find relief.

Other treatments include anti-inflammatory or antihistamine medicines, orthodontic devices, or a CPAP machine. The important thing is to get treated so your child can rest easy.

Doctors diagnose sleep apnea in kids by performing an overnight sleep study in a lab. During this , a special machine measures specific body functions while the child sleeps. It’s painless and non-invasive.

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