Sleep Apnea in Children
San Francisco

TMJ and Sleep Apnea San Francisco

Children appear to suffer more from sleep apnea than adults, because they have smaller lungs. This means they have less oxygen in reserve, and, as a result, children take frequent, shallow breaths rather than slow, deep breaths. When this occurs, it can cause a child to have too much carbon dioxide in their blood.
To make matters worse, adults have fragmented sleep where they briefly wake up after their breathing stops, but children don’t do that. When pauses in breathing occur, children don’t wake up in response. Instead, they have a higher “arousal threshold” than adults, which can make their sleep patterns normal with sleep apnea. In order to help our children, let’s look at some of the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea:

  • Loud snoring on a regular basis
  • Pauses, gasps, snorts and stoppage of breathing
  • Waking or disruptions due to snorts or gasps
  • Be restless or sleep in abnormal positions with their head in an unusual position

Additionally, if a child suffers from sleep apnea they might also experience a variety of symptoms throughout the day while awake, including:

  • Behavioral, school and social problems
  • Be difficult to wake up
  • Have headaches during the day, especially morning
  • Be irritable, agitated, aggressive and cranky
  • So sleepy during the day they actually fall asleep or daydream
  • Speak with a nasal voice and breathe regularly through the mouth

Causes of Sleep Apnea in Children

Sleep apnea in children is associated with a few specific causes, including:

  • Obesity
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Adenoids
  • Nasal Obstruction
  • GERD (gastroenterological reflux disorder)
  • Abnormality in the physical structure of the face or jaw
  • Medical and neurological conditions

However, the most common physical problem associated with sleep apnea in children is large tonsils. Peaking at five to seven years of age, young children often have large tonsils in comparison to the throat. As a result, this can cause a blockage of the airway resulting in breathing difficulty and sleep apnea.
If you suspect your child may be suffering from sleep apnea, contact San Francisco Center for TMJ and Sleep Apnea.