Tag Archives: sleep apnea in children

Can Children Have Sleep Apnea?

My husband and I were watching a movie the other night and heard something seriously weird. We went upstairs to discover my first grader snoring like a drunken pirate. My husband looked at me and said, “The snoring is strong with this one.” He thought it was funny but I’m concerned. I went in to watch her after the movie and it seemed to me like she stopped breathing a couple of times. Can children have sleep apnea?

Amanda H.

Dear Amanda,

Child sleeping mouth open
Snoring is often a sign of sleep apnea.

There are many things which can cause snoring in children. The obvious one is a cold or upper respiratory infection. But, if your child is otherwise healthy, then snoring is a big sign she may have sleep apnea. Even if the snoring is strong with her, it doesn’t necessarily mean she’ll have to look and sound like Darth Vader with a CPAP machine. There are less bulky and scary solutions.

Speak with a dentist about what you’ve noticed in her sleeping. He’ll likely order a sleep study. The breathing issue you saw is common with sleep apnea as well. In fact, it’s possible that she is doing that many times per night. You’ll notice, even when she has a full night’s sleep she’s a little tired throughout the day.

Is Sleep Apnea Hard to Treat?

Many times you can get a doctor’s prescription for your child’s sleep study, which will help offset the cost. A good dentist will start with the easiest treatment options first. Often, a child’s sleep apnea can be solved by a simple orthotic which fits like a custom designed mouth-guard. It doesn’t always have to be worn for long. Plus, as her jaw develops you may find this solves itself.

It wouldn’t hurt to have her looked at by an orthodontist as well to see if her bite development is an issue. The earlier treatment is planned for those type of things, the smoother and less expensive the procedure will cost you, especially if you can limit the phases of treatment.

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