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What Happens To Untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea In Children & When To Go To Doctor?

Pediatric obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which your child’s breathing is partly or entirely blocked recurrently during sleep. It is one of the most common breathing problems in children and this condition often occurs when a child stops breathing during sleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea not only a relatively widespread disorder but also as an ailment that imposes a wide range of morbidities. It can lead to bedwetting and daytime lack of focus. It is projected that 20 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, with more than 75 percent of the cases of modest and serious obstructive sleep apnea still remain undiagnosed.

What Happens To Untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea In Children?

What Happens To Untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea In Children?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can make the body’s oxygen levels decrease and interfere with sleep. This can make children skip on healthy, relaxing sleep. The typical cause of this condition is bulky tonsils and adenoids in the upper airway. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea can result in learning, behavior growth, and heart problems. The child may have difficulty paying attention in school. This can produce learning difficulties and reduced academic routine.1

The treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is centered on its trigger. Generally, inflamed tonsils and adenoids are the most prevalent source of obstructive sleep apnea in kids, surgical exclusion of the tonsils (palatine tonsils) and adenoids (inflamed glands at the back of the throat) is usually the suggested treatment.

In cases where surgery is not helpful, other alternative treatments are carried out to manage and control the disorder. If left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea can cause poor growth (“failure to thrive”), high blood pressure, increasing the risk of stroke and heart attack. Obstructive sleep apnea often influences performance and reasoning ability.

These children may also have difficulty thriving socially and academically. In the worst-case scenario, sleep apnea is accountable for reduced mental development and intellectual delays and heart complications. Therefore, it is important to get it evaluated early.2,3

When To Go To The Doctor For Obstructive Sleep Apnea In Children?

If you are doubtful you may have obstructive sleep apnea, the primary thing to do is to consult your healthcare provider. Lethargic sensation or falling asleep frequently during the day are general symptoms that you should seek medical attention. Your doctor will advise you to provide you a record of your sleep, exhaustion intensities throughout the day, or any other signs you are facing. They may give you a monitor to wear when you sleep that records your oxygen levels and pulse rate, to help identify sleep apnea.

You may chip in for analysis at a clinic or sleep center. In addition, you might also partake a take-home type of examination. Your physician may make an assessment depending on your symptoms, an analysis, and assessments. Your doctor may then refer you to a sleep specialist in a sleep center for further assessment.

Sleep experts may perform additional assessments to evaluate your disorder, analyze the seriousness of your disorder and discuss the treatment. They may refer to an overnight polysomnogram in which the initial hours are devoted to diagnosis. If obstructive sleep apnea is observed, the individual is woken and attached with a positive airway pressure tool. The remainder of the patient ‘s sleep is then dedicated to determining how well he or she responds to positive airway pressure therapy, the best and most common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.4,5

Preventing activities that rest your muscles can help avoid apnea incidents. Avoid drinking hard drinks or taking antidepressants to get sleep and maintain a healthy lifestyle.


  1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea – Kids health https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/apnea.html
  2. Sleep Apnea in Children: What You Need to Know https://www.healthline.com/health/sleep-apnea-in-children
  3. Obstructive Sleep Apnea- Condition left untreated https://www.chop.edu/conditions-diseases/obstructive-sleep-apnea
  4. When to go to doctor for Obstructive Sleep Apnea http://www.columbianeurology.org/neurology/staywell/document.php?id=42067
  5. Obstructive sleep apnea – Doctors and Departments https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/obstructive-sleep-apnea/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20352095

Also Read:

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 6, 2021

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