Parents should be concerned if they hear their child snoring at night, particularly if the snoring is very loud or causes the child to wake up very tired, says Dr. Mitch Conditt, a dentist in Fort Worth, Texas, who treats patients for sleep apnea. The snoring can be related to underlying conditions that can severely affect the brain and heart, known as sleep apnea.
To determine if a child has sleep apnea, Dr. Conditt will send the child to a sleep clinic, where they stay overnight and monitored by wires overnight. Dr. Conditt says the process is non-invasive and they make the rooms very comfortable for patients. For children, the parent can sleep in the bed next to the child. Based on the report for the sleep clinic, it will be determined if sleep apnea is present in the child.
For children, removing the tonsils and adenoids can be a simple treatment option or orthodontically expanding the palate. Dr. Conditt says that as some children get older, they grow out of sleep apnea because their tonsils and adenoids have disappeared and the airway has gotten larger. Outside of those options, Dr. Conditt says the other treatment options are similar to those of an adult, such as a CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure device, or an oral appliance.
It's estimated that between 1-4% of the children in America have sleep apnea and that 25% of children diagnosed with attention deficit disorder actually suffer from sleep apnea, according to Dr. Conditt. Behavior problems and learning difficulties can also be consequences of fragmented sleep, as well as bedwetting, sleep walking, retarded growth and even failure to thrive.
For any reason you feel like your child has any signs or symptoms of sleep apnea or if you hear snoring to any degree, you should immediately see a dentist so they can be properly evaluated, says Dr. Conditt.
Dr. Mitch Conditt is a dentist in Fort Worth, Texas and a leading sleep expert with Sleep Better TV, providing online, on-demand, sleep breathing disorder video content. Sleep Better TV is a featured network of Sequence Media Group.