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What Does Obstructive Sleep Apnea Sound Like In A Child & Can A Child Die From It?

Obstructive sleep apnea refers to a sleep disorder, where the breathing of the child blocks completely or partially and the procedure takes place repeatedly during sleep. The health condition takes place because of blockage or narrowing of your upper airways while you sleep.(1)

What Does Obstructive Sleep Apnea Sound Like In A Child?

You may identify the problem of obstructive sleep apnea in your child based on, symptoms. However, before we should discuss the symptoms, it is essential for you to know what exactly takes place in the case of obstructive sleep apnea. Whenever breathing stops, oxygen level present in the body goes down and the level of carbon dioxide increases. This often triggers the brain of a person to wake him/her up for breathing. Many times, this takes place in no time and hence, the person goes right back for sleep and that too without any awareness to wake up. This pattern repeats for the entire night if a person suffers from obstructive sleep apnea. Thus, obstructive sleep apnea patients fail to reach deep and restful sleep.

Particularly, if a child has obstructive sleep apnea, he or she may experience the following symptoms-

  • Snoring, which often takes place with gasps, snorts, and pauses
  • Heavy breathing while you sleep
  • Excessive restless sleep combined with sleep in abnormal or unusual positions
  • Bedwetting problems
  • Night terrors or sleepwalking
  • Behavioral problems, including the problem of daytime sleepiness

As the children experience a hard time to get a comfortable sleep during the nighttime, they often-

  • Experience a hard time while they wake up during the morning
  • Feel tired and often fall asleep in morning or day hours
  • Experience difficulty to pay attention towards something or stay hyperactive
  • OSA i.e. obstructive sleep apnea may hurt the performance of a child in his/her school.(2)

As Per Diagnose Procedures To Detect The Problem And Symptoms

You have to consult your doctor if the child experiences any of the mentioned symptoms related to the disorder-

  • Often experiences the problem of snoring, especially during nighttime
  • Sleeps in a restless way
  • Falls asleep often during the daytime
  • Experiences various signs and symptoms related to sleep apnea

Once you discuss the problems with your doctor, he/she may refer your child to a specialist for conducting a sleep study. Also known as restful sleep polysomnogram, the sleep study allows doctors to diagnose sleep apnea and related sleep disorders. Sleep studies do not involve any risk or pain, but kids have to spend at least one night in a sleep center or in a hospital. Accordingly, specialists check-

  • Pulse or heart rate
  • Eye movements
  • Brain waves
  • Breathing patterns
  • Levels of blood oxygen and carbon dioxide
  • Snoring and related noises
  • Sleep positions and body movements(2)

Can A Child Die From Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea disorder may affect the quality of life lead by your child. If your child’s obstructive sleep apnea remains untreated, he or she may experience many severe problems in the near future. A few of the children may suffer in terms of their growth. Besides, sleep apnea may make other medical conditions worse. With time, obstructive sleep apnea may cause hypertension i.e. high blood pressure and result in severe cardiac disease. If your child fails to get proper treatment in time, he may even die. On the other side, you may prevent the death of your child and manage his/her symptoms largely by choosing for timely treatment.(3)


To conclude, we should say that you may easily identify the obstructive sleep apnea disorder in children based on underlying symptoms and consultation with your doctor followed by a sleep study by the specialist. However, if your child fails to undergo proper treatment, he may suffer from severe health issues in the later years of life. Other than this, depending on individual conditions, a child may suffer death later.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 3, 2020

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