What Situation Makes Children Get Sleep Apnea? Get to know them in Relation to the various Causes and Types

What is the usual type of sleep apnea observed in children?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea syndrome is the common type that is observed in children. Upper airway obstruction occurs repetitively during sleep.

This is the main characteristics of obstructive sleep Apnoea. Most of the children grow with this problem and it is not diagonised if it is a minor one. It leads to behavioral and attention problems for the children during day time.

What can be the Causes of sleep apnea?

1. Obstructive tonsils and adenoids cause Obstructive sleep apnea in children.

2. Down syndromes: Chromosomal abnormality like down syndrome may also cause sleep apnea. Down syndorme is characterised by enlarged tonisl , adenoids, large tongue, narrow nasopharynx and low muscle tone.

3. Craniofacial Syndromes: Nose, mouth and jaws will have unusual facial features in children affected by Craniofacial Syndromes. This also causes sleep apnea.

Are there any conditions associated with sleep apnea?

The following conditions are associated with sleep apnea:

1. Life Threatening Events: A combination of change in color, muscle tone, gagging, choking may be combined with sleep apnea which might turn out to be life threatening.

2. Apnea of Prematurity: this type of apnea is caused in children who have under developed brain and respiratory systems. This is found mostly in premature babies. This type of apea could be obstructive, central or a mixed one.

3. Apnea of Infancy: This type of apnea is caused in children before they are one years old. This would occur to the children who are born after a full term of pregnancy.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea in children?

Some of the common types of symptoms that are observed in children who have sleep apnea are:

• Sleepiness during daytime which might be in excess

• Restless sleep

• Snoring during sleep

• Breathing through mouth and gasping for breathe

• High blood pressure

• Unusual position during sleep

• Respiratory infections that might occur frequently

• Changes in personality

• Hyperactive behavior

• Enlarged tonsils and adenoids

• Behavioral and attention problems during daytime

• Congestive heart failure in some severe cases

• Difficulty to concentrate in their studies in school

• Problems of interpersonal skills

Depending on the age of the child the symptoms might vary. These problems can be seen in early infancy in some cases. Throat and nose might get blocked due to obstructive apnea. Due to this they will find it difficult to eat. Eating might be painful for such children. Hence such children might be underdeveloped.

How is Sleep Apnea treated?

Treatment through devices:

• C-PAP (Continuous positive airway pressure) – Obstructive and central sleep apnea are treated using this device. This is a mask that is covered on the nose so that air at predetermined pressue is supplied.

This keeps the airways open so that the patient breathes easily. This device is mostly used in the night when the patient might feel the difficulties in breathing.

• Bi-Level positive airway pressure – as the name indicated there are two levels of pressure used in this method. One pressure (high pressure) is used during inhaling and the other pressure (low pressure) is used during exhaling. The patient’s breathing is monitored with an electronic circuit.

Treatment through Surgery:

• Surgery is used to remove the tonsils, the polyps and the adenoids. This would solve the probem in children.

Tracheostomy – In this method a tube with valve is inserted in the neck through an incision. During night time the valve is opened to breathe and during day time it is closed. This valve bypasses the blocked path during night and enables the patient to breathe properly.

Mandibular advancement surgery – in this method the jaws are moved or positioned in such a manner that it give more space between the tongue and the soft palate. This helps in free flow of air.

Uvulopalatoplasty – the back of the throat has soft tissue called palates. These are removed and the air pathway is increased. Snoring is reduced with this method. However apnea is not cured completely since the deeper tissues are not removed.


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