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What Is The Prognosis For Obstructive Sleep Apnea In Children & Lifestyle Changes For It?

Obstructive sleep apnea in children is a common sleep disorder that occurs due to partial or complete blockage in the upper airways during sleep. It may happen due to the presence of big tonsils or adenoids in this area. It results in frequent pauses or interruption in breathing. Its other symptoms are snoring, restless sleep, bedwetting, nightmares, etc. It can be diagnosed by physical examination, complete evaluation of the case, polysomnogram, oximetry and electrocardiogram. It can be corrected with medicine, surgery, and CPAP. Its prognosis is good.

What Is The Prognosis For Obstructive Sleep Apnea In Children?

What Is The Prognosis For Obstructive Sleep Apnea In Children?

Sleep apnea treatment has good outcomes for many children. Surgery helps to treat symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea in 70 to 90 percent of children with enlarged tonsils and adenoids. In some cases, children with either type of sleep apnea can improve their symptoms with weight management or use of an oral device or a CPAP machine.(1)

If obstructive sleep apnea is left untreated, it can worsen with time and interfere with the quality of life of the child. The child feels it difficult to concentrate in school, and this disorder also elevates the risk of life-threatening complications like stroke or heart disease. (1) It also causes several problems such as poor growth, poor weight gain, heart ailments, daytime attention deficit, and behavioral issues.(3)

If loud snoring pauses in breathing while asleep, hyperactivity or severe daytime fatigue is observed in a child, the parents should consult a pediatrician to seek help for the treatment of sleep apnea.(4)

Lifestyle Changes For Obstructive Sleep Apnea In Children

Avoidance Of Airway Irritants And Allergens- All children, but especially those with childhood obstructive sleep apnea, should be protected from tobacco smoke or other indoor allergens or pollutants. These pollutants can lead to irritation and congestion in the airways.(2)

Weight Loss- Doctors may recommend weight loss for a child if he or she is obese. The doctor can provide diet and nutrition information or chart. He may refer the child to other specialists with expertise who can manage obesity.(2) It is more effective when lying on the back during sleep is avoided.(3)

Exercises- The muscle tone of lining the airway is marked to show improvement through targeted training. Some studies have also evaluated the positive effects of circular breathing techniques. These techniques are used to perform the didgeridoo, and tongue strengthening exercises called myofunctional therapy. Although these results are conflicting and not satisfactory, they need further extensive research to establish its effectiveness for obstructive sleep apnea.(3)

Obstructive sleep apnea in children is a sleep disorder marked by frequent pauses in the child’s breathing during sleep. It affects children age 2- 8 years. Two types of sleep apnea appear in children, one is obstructive sleep apnea, and the other is central sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea appears due to blockage in the throat or nose.

Central sleep apnea is caused due to improper functioning of the brain part responsible for breathing. This part is unable to send proper signals to the breathing muscles for normal functions.(5)

The differentiating symptom between the two types of sleep apnea is snoring. It is the more characteristic feature of obstructive sleep apnea than a central sleep apnea as obstructive sleep apnea is caused by airway obstruction.(5)


The prognosis for obstructive sleep apnea in children depends on the condition of the child and treatment selected. It is usually excellent if enlarged tonsils or adenoids are removed surgically. The use of CPAP or oral device for its management yield excellent outcomes. Lifestyle changes such as avoidance of airway irritants & allergens, weight loss, and regular exercises can help in the management of obstructive sleep apnea in children.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 19, 2022

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