How Can I Help My Child With Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition caused due to narrowing or constriction of the upper airway. It is quite commonly seen in toddlers and small children, though, it can be seen in people belonging to any age group.

How Can I Help My Child With Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

If your child has obstructive sleep apnea, you need to work out with your doctor about the most appropriate treatment approach for your child. The treatment may include the following options-

Medicines- Nasal steroids to be applied topically, like fluticasone, budesonide may be helpful in children with mild obstructive sleep apnea. Montelukast, used alone or with nasal steroids, might prove to be useful in children with allergies.(3)

Tonsillectomy, Adenoidectomy Or Adenotonsillectomy- If the enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids is the reason for your child’s obstructive sleep apnea, your doctor may refer you to a pediatric ENT specialist for a surgery to remove these. This surgery might help improve the airway by reducing the obstruction.(3)

Positive Airway Pressure Therapy- In this method, tiny machines blow air through a tube and mask affixed to the child’s nose or nose and mouth both. Air pressure is sent to the back of the throat with the help of these machines to keep the airway open. Usually, positive airway pressure therapy is used in children to treat their sleep apnea. A proper fitting and refitting of the mask may be required as the child grows up.(3)

Oral Devices- Oral devices like mouthpieces help in moving the child’s tongue and bottom jaw forward so that the child’s upper airway is kept open. However, not all children benefit from such devices.(3)

Lifestyle Changes For A Child With Obstructive Sleep Apnea-

Some lifestyle changes may better help your child to deal with his/her obstructive sleep apnea. These may include-

Keeping Away From Triggers: All children, and especially those with sleep apnea, should keep away from all kinds of irritants, allergens and other triggers like tobacco smoke, pollens, pollutants, dust, etc. These factors can lead to irritation and congestion of the airway.

Weight Reduction: If your child is overweight, he or she may need to lose weight to avoid obstruction in the airway. Your doctor may guide you through the right diet plan for your child, which will help him/her to lose weight and still get all the nutrition he/she requires for proper growth and development.

Outlook For Obstructive Sleep Apnea In Children-

Many children benefit from the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. In many instances where surgery is performed, obstructive sleep apnea is removed in those kids by a whopping 70 to 90 percent. Those that are obese, benefit a lot as soon as their weight is brought down to the normal range. Using a CPAP machine also ensures that obstructive sleep apnea is managed in many kids.

If obstructive sleep apnea is not treated, it can lead to severe complications. It can affect your child’s quality of life seriously and can even cause failure to thrive in some children. Their growth and development can be, both physically and mentally. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea can also lead to serious life-threatening complications like stroke or heart disease.

If you notice any of the symptoms like snoring, daytime tiredness, hyperactivity, poor performance at school, make sure to consult with your child’s doctor to discuss any possibility of sleep apnea or to rule it out.

Conclusion

Obstructive sleep apnea is associated with the narrowing or constricting of the upper part of the airway. This condition can prove to be quite dangerous if not treated promptly. If you find any of the signs or symptoms similar to that of sleep apnea in your child, get your child evaluated by a doctor immediately, as this condition can lead to potentially serious consequences, including death.

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