Best Exercises/Activities For Obstructive Sleep Apnea In Children

Obstructive sleep apnea is a medical condition characterized by the habit of loud snoring during sleep, episodes of apnea or hypopnea during the night time which may or may not lead to arousal from sleep. There are numerous exercises for reducing the risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea which if followed in a strategic manner can yield excellent results.

Best Exercises/Activities For Obstructive Sleep Apnea In Children

Exercises for obstructive sleep apnea can be divided into two groups: First group of exercises is those which are responsible for reducing the risk factors of obstructive sleep apnea. It may include childhood obesity, cardiovascular health care, other system involvement etc. These include the regular set of exercise and activities routine to alleviate the obesity risk and reduce the weight. Eating habits should be managed properly. Limit the diet containing excessively nutritious foods like sweetened beverages, high glucose products, candies, lollipops, etc. Carbohydrate-rich products like biscuits should also be cut down to the requirement of the child. Giving small and frequent meals will curb hunger and promote satiety. A balanced diet should be followed and also junk food, street food should be reduced. Physical workout in the form of outdoor sports like basketball, football etc. should be promoted inside of playing video games and indoor sports for long hours. Adequate sleep should be ensured.

The second group of exercises is for strengthening the muscles of the oral cavity and promoting the conditioning of those muscles in such a way that they do not fall back which results in closure of the oral cavity either partially or fully. There are many such oral exercises for it which have yielded excellent results like:

Tiger Yell: In this exercise for obstructive sleep apnea in children, the mouth should be opened as widely as possible and the tongue should be stretched fully outwards, then the person should yell for a few seconds. It helps to elevate the uvula for more than 5 seconds which helps to strengthen the pharyngeal muscles. It is known as the tiger yell because the face of the person looks like when a tiger is about to yell.[1]

Tongue Slides: it is an important exercise for obstructive sleep apnea as it strengthens both the tongue as well as the soft palate. In this, the patient has to elevate the tongue to the roof of the oral cavity by sucking of air mechanism which sticks the tongue to the hard palate. Then slowly the tongue has to be moved back in a progressive manner while still maintaining the contract with the palate. This is to be done in a slow manner and for more than 10 seconds and should be repeated at least twenty times a day.[2] Another tongue exercise includes pushing the tongue to the base or floor of the oral cavity. While trying to do so, it must be taken care that the tip of the tongue is in contact with the lower central incisors which helps to strengthen the tongue muscles and prevents it from falling back during sleep which is responsible for the closure of the airway.

Soft Palate Stretch: The obstructive sleep apnea patient is told to open the mouth adequately and start saying the word ‘ah’ or ‘aa’ in the background of the oral cavity. It surely stretches the soft palate and opens the inhalation pathway for adequate airflow during sleep. It also prevents the fall of the soft palate during sleep. It should be done for 20 seconds and for at least 10 times a day. Soft palate blowing could also be performed which has the same function.

Conclusion

Various exercises are available which act on the different aspects of the condition of obstructive sleep apnea. It can be for reducing the risk factors, causes or symptoms of the condition. Oral exercises are available and known to have excellent results and may even completely stop the need for medical treatment or continuous positive airway pressure. These should be told to the patient as soon as the symptoms are encountered and should not wait for the diagnosis to confirm the condition.

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