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Sleep Apnea and Kids’ Behavior Problems
Sleep apnea is the medical term used to describe the temporary breathing pauses during sleep, which is caused by the airway being blocked or being too narrow. When the oxygen level in your bloodstream drops, your brain sends out a signal that briefly wakes you up so you can breathe. For those who suffer from sleep apnea, the cycle continues through the night, preventing them from getting restful sleep.
According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, one out of 10 children snore regularly and 2 to 4 percent of children suffer from sleep apnea. The condition is said to be most common in children between the ages of two and six, but it can also affect younger children.
Types of sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is categorized into three different types, which are:
- Obstructive sleep apnea: This is the most common form of sleep apnea, and it occurs when your throat muscles relax while you sleep
- Central sleep apnea: Children dealing with this type of sleep apnea have difficulty sleeping at night because their brain does not send the proper signals to the muscles that control their breathing
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome: This type of sleep apnea is a combination of the obstructive sleep apnea and the central sleep apnea
What are the causes of sleep apnea?
The main cause of obstructive sleep apnea is the relaxation of the muscles in the back of your throat. When they relax, your airway closes when you breathe in, restricting the amount of air you are getting. When the oxygen levels in your blood drop, your brain will briefly wake you up so you can start breathing again.
The main cause of central sleep apnea is the failure of your brain to transmit signals to the breathing muscles. When this happens, you do not breathe for a short period of time and will wake up short of breath or have a difficult time falling asleep.
How does sleep apnea affect the behavior of children?
Kids who suffer from sleep apnea do not get enough sleep, which affects their behavior. Some of the behavior problems in children with sleep apnea include:
- Trouble focusing
What treatment options are available for kids with sleep apnea?
The treatment options for sleep apnea vary depending on what the root cause of the problem is. If your kid is overweight, your doctor will recommend losing weight to see if it helps with the problem. If your child cannot sleep because of a nasal allergy to sheets or other bedding materials, changing them might help.
If losing weight or changing the sheets does not help, the doctor will recommend either therapy or surgery to fix the problem. However, surgery is considered the last resort if the therapy does not work.
Sleep apnea not only prevents children from sleeping well, but it can also lead to behavioral problems that can affect them negatively as adults. If your kid has trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor to find out what the best treatment options are.
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