Sleep Apnea Symptoms In Children You Can’t Ignore

TeamSleep Apnea

As parents, we just know when something is "off" with our kids.

Sleep apnea means your child's breathing gets obstructed while they sleep. This prevents them from getting truly deep, restorative sleep their growing body and mind need.

Left overlooked, pediatric sleep apnea can impact your child's mood, behavior, development and even school work.

But when identified early, doctors like pediatric sleep specialist Dr. Amal Seifelnasr can help your kiddo get the right treatment to sleep peacefully and thrive.

Keep reading!

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Sleep Apnea Isn't Just An Adult Issue

When we consider sleep apnea, we usually think of someone's dad sawing logs with a CPAP device on the nightstand.

But sleep apnea in kids is far more common than most of us realize. Roughly 3% of children have this breathing disorder.

With pediatric sleep apnea, soft tissue in the throat relaxes during sleep and partially obstructs the airway. This interferes with normal breathing.

Children with sleep apnea will:

  • Snore loudly or make odd noises like gasping
  • Breathe through their mouth while sleeping
  • Toss and turn frequently without getting restorative sleep

This repeated breathing interruption stops kids from reaching crucial REM and deep sleep stages their body depends on.

While parents may brush off their child's snoring, untreated sleep apnea seriously impacts their health.

How Pediatric Sleep Apnea Harms Your Child

For healthy growth and development, children need way more quality Zzz's than adults.

School-age kids need 9-12 hours of sleep nightly. Teens need 8-10 hours.

But pediatric sleep apnea robs children of getting the uninterrupted REM and deep sleep their mind and body require.

Intermittent sleep from apnea is like waking your child hundreds of times a night - even if they don't fully wake up.

Over time, this sleep deprivation leads to:

  • Learning struggles - Sleep is vital for cognitive skills, memory, focus and concentration. Apnea impairs these. Kids often struggle academically.
  • ADHD-like symptoms - Excessive daytime drowsiness causes inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
  • Behavior issues - Overtired children become irritable, defiant, and hyperactive. Apnea also raises ADD/ADHD risk.
  • Delayed growth - Growth hormone release occurs during deep sleep. Apnea prevents this, slowing children's growth.
  • Frequent illness - Sleep is key for the immune system. Apnea compromises immunity so kids catch more colds, flu, etc.
  • Heart problems - Apnea elevates blood pressure and heart rate, overworking kids' cardiovascular system.

Clearly, pediatric sleep apnea is not something to dismiss. When identified and treated early, positive effects happen quickly.

Free "Parents Guide to Pediatric Sleep Apnea"

Recognizing Pediatric Sleep Apnea - What To Watch For

Luckily, pediatric sleep apnea has telltale indicators you can watch for. Children with this condition often:

  • Snore loudly - Loud snoring signals obstructed breathing during sleep.
  • Breathe through mouth - Blocked nasal passages force mouth breathing while asleep.
  • Gasp or choke at night - These sounds mean your child's breathing is disrupted during sleep.
  • Still feel tired after sleeping - Because apnea prevents restorative sleep, kids feel drained even after a full night's sleep.
  • Grind teeth - Pediatric bruxism strongly associates with sleep apnea as the body tries to open airways.
  • Sweat heavily at night - Hormone and cardiovascular changes from apnea often increase perspiration.
  • Sleep restlessly - Frequent tossing and turning hints your child isn't getting rejuvenating sleep.
  • Wet the bed - Sleep apnea exacerbates bedwetting issues. The two conditions are closely linked.

Other common signs include:

  • Mouth breathing while awake or asleep
  • Bedwetting and nightmares
  • Crowded, misaligned teeth
  • Narrow dental arches
  • Open bite and tongue thrust
  • Snoring or making noises while sleeping
  • Allergies and asthma
  • Dark under eye circles
  • Aggression and irritability
  • Poor concentration and academic performance

The sooner it's identified, the faster your kid gets relief and healing.


How Are Doctors Accurately Diagnosing Pediatric Sleep Apnea

You may wonder how doctors definitively diagnose sleep apnea, especially in young children who can't easily describe symptoms themselves.

Castle Hills Orthodontics uses state-of-the-art equipment and techniques and the doctor have the knowledge to detect sleep apnea oral symptoms and treat it.

Act Now!

Orthodontics sound scary? Not at Castle Hills 3D Orthodontics.

Dr. Seifelnasr uses leading-edge tools like 3D imaging and iTero scanners to create custom treatments that fit your child’s needs.

We believe getting to the root cause early and taking the right steps is crucial for your child's sleep, growth and future success.

Here's how we help kids sleep better:

  • We start with a thorough exam to check for signs of sleep disorders.
  • If needed, we do an overnight sleep study to gain vital data on what's disturbing your child's sleep.
  • Then our caring doctor creates a tailored treatment plan to resolve the specific problem so restful nights happen again.

So give us a call today at 469-598-1700 to schedule a pediatric sleep evaluation for your child.

And in the meantime, know that you're not alone - many Lewisville parents have found answers and relief for their child's sleep struggles at Castle Hills 3D Orthodontics.

Take Our FREE Sleep Quiz


What are the daytime symptoms of sleep apnea in children?

Excessive tiredness and sleepiness are the main daytime symptoms. Kids may act cranky, inattentive or hyperactive. Learning and behavior issues can also occur.

Can a child outgrow sleep apnea?

Sometimes, if enlarged tonsils and adenoids were causing the apnea. But sleep apnea often persists if other underlying issues like misaligned jaws or a narrowed airway are present.

How can I treat my child’s sleep apnea naturally?

Maintaining a healthy weight, sticking to a regular sleep schedule, avoiding evening screens and caffeine, and trying nasal strips or allergy medication may help mild cases. But medical treatment is usually needed.

What are the dangers of sleep apnea in children?

Untreated pediatric sleep apnea can impair growth, immune function and cardiovascular health. It also negatively affects mood, learning, behavior and safety. Proper treatment is crucial.

Can skinny kids have sleep apnea?

Yes, it’s a myth that only overweight children get sleep apnea. Any child with throat/jaw structure issues or enlarged tonsils/adenoids that obstruct breathing can develop apnea regardless of weight.

What age does sleep apnea start?

Sleep apnea can begin at any age in childhood if anatomical factors predispose the child to airway obstruction during sleep. But symptoms tend to first appear once adenotonsillar tissue grows large enough to block breathing.