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?
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.
Yes, I snore. Does that mean I have sleep apnea? My wife keeps accusing me of it.
– Paul in Texas
Did you know that 50-70 million Americans suffer from sleeping disorders, like sleep apnea? Snoring can be an indicator that you may have sleep apnea and serious sleep apnea can actually be life threatening. So it’s worth your while to find out if you do. Individuals with sleep apnea stop breathing for a short duration while they are sleeping. Since your body is in such a relaxed state during sleep, the muscles are also relaxed, including your throat and tongue. In this state, the tongue can impinge on your breathing passageway and disturb your breathing. You may have not idea and often times it is a spouse that discovers this.
Here are some common symptoms of sleep apnea:
Waking suddenly for no reason
Gasping for breath or a choking feeling
Waking multiple times
Feeling sleepy during the day
A sleep study is required in order to properly diagnose this condition known as obstructive sleep apnea. Then once it has been diagnosed, you can seek treatment with a sleep clinic or a dentist can treat you. Treatments are wide-ranging, but going the dentist route would allow you to treat your sleep apnea without surgery with an appliance worn during the night. These oral appliances reposition the jaw into a more favorable position to keep the breathing passage open.
Physicians often prescribe a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Device (CPAP) machine. Many patients aren’t happy with having to wear the respiratory device that blows compressed air. But it is important to explore your options to find a solution that is right for you.
Again, your wife is right to worry. Sleep apnea that is left untreated leads to increased risk in stroke, heart attack, hypertension, and other serious conditions.