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:
Additionally, if a child suffers from sleep apnea they might also experience a variety of symptoms throughout the day while awake, including:
Causes of Sleep Apnea in Children
Sleep apnea in children is associated with a few specific causes, including:
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.