Kids and teens can suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, otherwise known as pediatric obstructive sleep apnea. Just like obstructive sleep apnea that affects adults, sleep apnea in pediatric patients causes pauses in breathing during sleep due to an obstruction in the upper airway.
The effects of obstructive sleep apnea in kids and teens include daytime sleepiness, inflammation, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular problems. A child can develop growth, cognitive, and behavioral problems as a result of poor quality sleep. In some cases, children outgrow sleep apnea, but some do not.
You want your child to grow into a healthy and happy adult. Children can benefit from early sleep apnea treatment to avoid long-term complications.
Treatment for Obstructive Pediatric Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea in pediatric patients is usually caused by enlarged adenoids or tonsils. Obesity is also a contributing factor.
Treatment for sleep apnea is individualized and may include medications, positive airway pressure therapy, and the removal of enlarged tonsils or adenoids. The treatment plan is customized according to what is causing the blockage for the patient.
If the blockage is caused by allergies, allergy medication, intranasal corticosteroids, or leukotriene modifier therapy may help resolve the issue. If the blockage is caused by enlarged tonsils or adenoids, removal of these tissues is often the recommended treatment. An ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor is a specialist who can perform the procedures to remove tonsils or adenoids.
If symptoms persist, the doctor may prescribe the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. The CPAP machine keeps the airway open by continuously sending air pressure into the back of the child’s throat to keep the airway open. The mask that goes over the nose and mouth will need to be adjusted regularly as the child grows.
Lastly, overweight or obese children are at an increased risk of sleep apnea. It can even persist despite the removal of the adenoids or tonsils. Studies show, it may have to do with altered neuromuscular tone, which contributes to greater upper airway collapsibility during sleep. Moreover, the fat deposits in the neck can block a child’s upper airway when they sleep. A higher level of abdominal fat can also constrict the chest walls. Weight loss through dietary and lifestyle changes is part of treatment for pediatric sleep apnea and helps improve symptoms.
Your doctor will discuss treatment options with you after a thorough examination and an assessment of your child’s symptoms. In most cases, a non-surgical approach will be recommended first. Only if conservative treatment doesn’t relieve symptoms will surgery be recommended.
Pediatric Sleep Apnea Treatment in Georgetown
At Georgetown ENT, we are highly experienced in treating obstructive sleep apnea in adult and pediatric patients. If your child suffers from this condition, take the first step towards relief by coming in for a consultation. Our goal is to help your child breathe and sleep better, so they can focus on being a kid and enjoy school, playing, and their time at home.
To schedule an appointment, call us now at (512) 869-0604 or fill out our appointment request form. We look forward to helping your child sleep better!