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What To Eat & Avoid When A Child Has Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea has now become common as hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, and experts say that more than 53% of individuals are already suffering from sleep apnea, diabetes or hypertension but remain unaware of sleep apnea. In this situation, effective treatment and correct management of this disease are vital.

Sleep apnea affects children from age 4 onwards leading to an increase in the risk factors of tonsils, snoring and obesity, which is in turn, responsible for the increase in the cause of diabetes at a young age.(1)

What To Eat & Avoid When A Child Has Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

What To Eat & Avoid When A Child Has Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obesity or overweight increases the risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea for your children. Even moderate weight loss can improve the symptoms. Therefore, a healthy diet and an active lifestyle are important components of your kid’s treatment.

If your child’s airways are already small, narrow, or blocked by adenoids or large tonsils, breathing problems may increase with increased weight.

A healthy diet will help maintain a good weight and has many benefits. A healthy diet includes fruits, vegetables, and protein, as well as sugar and saturated fat, which can help your child lose weight by improving their metabolism and providing them with energy for regular exercise as well as outdoor activities.(4)(5)

What To Expect From A Diet Change For Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Changing your kid’s diet plan can be difficult at first, but it is crucial to accept healthy eating habits in the household.

Often, parents do not understand how much fluid may contribute to an unhealthy diet thereby promoting weight gain. Children should not drink soft drinks or juice as these drinks are high in calories and are not healthy alternatives to water or skimmed milk. The juice contains a similar amount of sugar and calories as other carbonated drinks.

Studies have indicated that a lack of sleep and fatigue are related to changes in hormones that control appetite. As a result, children with obstructive sleep apnea may have a greater appetite for carbohydrates, a habit of eating more and a feeling of no satisfaction while eating.

By motivating your child (and the entire family) to eat a mixed and healthy diet at home, you may enable breaking this sleep deprivation cycle.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment

Persistent Positive Airway Pressure: If your child was diagnosed with sleep apnea, he/she may benefit from a machine that delivers air pressure through a mask placed above the nose. Although it is a very good method for treating sleep apnea, many may find it uncomfortable.

Dental Devices: There are certain dental devices designed to pull the jaw forward and open the throat. They can also be used to relieve snoring and mild obstructive sleep apnea.

Surgery Or Other Procedures: The goal of surgery for sleep apnea is to remove excess tissue from the nose or throat that may vibrate and snore or block the upper airways and cause sleep apnea.(6)

When a person sleeps at night, the airway muscles become very narrow, so that it does not provide enough air for the lungs. This affects respiration and sometimes there is difficulty in breathing called apnea. This can affect your child as well, although it usually affects people between 30 and 40 years of age.

Sleep apnea eventually increases diabetes and other risk factors such as obesity and high blood pressure as the responses of the body to sleep loss promote inhibition of insulin secretion causing diabetes.(1)

Most Common Symptoms Of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea can vary, making this type of sleep apnea more difficult to diagnose. The most common symptoms are:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
  • Making hoarse noisy snoring
  • Watch episodes of breathing stops during sleep
  • Waking up suddenly with shortness of breath
  • Dry mouth or sore throat
  • Morning headache(2)

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles behind the throat relax. These muscles support many structures such as the soft palate, uvula, tonsils, and tongue. When these muscles become relaxed, your child’s airways become narrow or closed during breathing and the speed of breath decreases. The most important result is low levels of oxygen in the blood. Your child may occasionally feel suffocation or panting. This pattern can be repeated 20 to 30 times or more every hour, throughout the night.(3)


  1. Maris M, Verhulst S, Wojciechowski M, Van de Heyning P, Boudewyns A. Prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea in children with Down syndrome. Sleep. 2016;39(3):699-704.
  2. Alonso-Álvarez ML, Terán-Santos J, Carbajo EO, et al. Reliability of home respiratory polygraphy for the diagnosis of sleep apnea in children. Chest. 2015;147(4):1020-1028.
  3. Rosen CL, Wang R, Taylor HG, et al. Utility of symptoms to predict treatment outcomes in obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Pediatrics. 2015;135(3):e662-e671.
  4. Garetz SL, Mitchell RB, Parker PD, et al. Quality of life and obstructive sleep apnea symptoms after pediatric adenotonsillectomy. Pediatrics. 2015;135(2):e477-e486.
  5. Obstructive sleep apnea in obese community-dwelling children: the NANOS study. Sleep. 2014;37(5):943-949.
  6. Huang Y-S, Guilleminault C, Lee L-A, Lin C-H, Hwang F-M. Treatment outcomes of adenotonsillectomy for children with obstructive sleep apnea: a prospective longitudinal study. Sleep. 2014;37(1):71-76.

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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:November 26, 2021

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