Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder of children in which the patient experiences awakenings or restlessness in sleep. It happens due to partial or complete blockage of upper airways during sleep. It is the common cause of snoring in adults. It is caused by enlarged tonsils or adenoids, premature birth, congenital conditions such as Down’s syndrome, structural abnormalities of face or skull, cerebral palsy and many more. It exhibits symptoms such as snoring, failure to gain weight or height, mouth breathing, excessive sweating at night, bedwetting, daytime cognitive, and behavior problems. It is diagnosed by the clinical evaluation of the case, polysomnography and others.
What Leads To Obstructive Sleep Apnea In Children?
Pediatric obstructive sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder of children characterized by disturbance in breathing due to incomplete or complete blockage repeatedly happening during sleep. It occurs when the upper airway during sleep is blocked or becomes narrower during sleep. It is the leading cause of daytime attention and behavior problems in children.(1)
Pediatric obstructive sleep apnea and adult sleep apnea are different in their features. In adults, OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) usually induces daytime sleepiness, whereas, in children, behavioral problems appear. Obesity is the underlying cause in adults, while in children, enlargement of the adenoids and tonsils is the most common cause.(1)
However, obesity also plays a role in children to trigger OSA. Other underlying causes are neuromuscular disorders and craniofacial anomalies and.(1) In this disorder, the muscles in the backside of the throat collapse when the child falls asleep, resulting in difficulty in breathing for the child.(2)
Other causes of sleep apnea in children are:
- The child has some medical conditions, like heart failure and strokes
- The child is born prematurely
- He is born with some congenital anomalies
- He is given some medications, such as opioids(2)
The risk factors of obstructive sleep apnea in children include-
- Overweight or obesity
- Down syndrome
- Abnormalities in the skull or face
- Cerebral palsy
- History of low birth weight
- Sickle cell disease
- Neuromuscular disease
- Family history of obstructive sleep apnea(1)
- Having a large tongue(2)
Can Obstructive Sleep Apnea In Children Be Cured?
In most cases, Obstructive sleep apnea is a chronic sleep condition that does not go away. The Anatomy of the parts of the body does not change after the end of adolescence. If the structure of the skull of the face has abnormalities that have induced sleep apnea in the child, then it does not go on its own after adolescent age.
Therefore, children with sleep apnea may retain can good prognosis if the condition is successfully and definitively diagnosed and treated. The removal of tonsils and adenoids with tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy is an excellent option for children with sleep apnea. The treatment of allergies and the use of an orthodontic therapy called rapid maxillary expansion for the expansion of the hard palate may help in the treatment of OSA in children. After the growth, the stage is concluded in a person, and then additional treatment options are required for the treatment of OSA.(3)
Obstructive sleep apnea can be treated; hence it can be cured in many cases as mentioned above. In some cases, losing extra kilos can help to improve symptoms of sleep apnea, but it does not render good results all the time. Sleeping with a mouthpiece fitted by their dentist or doctor can improve the condition.(4)
Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by several factors such as enlarged tonsils and adenoids, obesity, allergies, sickle cell disease, family history, neuromuscular disease, cerebral palsy, congenital diseases, and others mentioned above. It leads to behavior problems and attention problems in children. It can be cured depending upon the causes.
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