Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Children

What is obstructive sleep apnea in children?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or OSA, in a child is due to partial or complete blockage or obstruction in the airway. The airway is the passages through the nose and mouth to the windpipe and lungs.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea in a child is when this obstruction of the airway leads to frequent sleep disruption and arousals and/or changes in the oxygen saturation.

In contrast to adults, children with Obstructive Sleep Apnea do not necessarily have pauses in their breathing or hold their breath. Actually, many children with severe OSA only snore.

Signs and symptoms of OSA in a child include snoring, snorting, choking or gagging in their sleep, breath-holding with sleep, especially if followed by a loud snort. Children with OSA may be sleepy during the day. However, most are hyper-aroused and may have school, learning or behavior difficulties, due to their poor sleep quality.

Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea in children will depend on the severity and the likely causes in each individual child. Treatment may include evaluation by Ear Nose and Throat surgical specialists, weight management efforts, CPAP therapy and watchful waiting. 

In order to diagnose Obstructive Sleep Apnea, an overnight in-lab polysomnography sleep study must be performed. When your child and your concerns are evaluated in the Driscoll Pediatric Sleep Center, the pediatric sleep specialist will discuss with you if OSA is suspected in your child and if a sleep study is needed.

Driscoll Medical Reviewer: Daher, Amine, MD; Reviewed on 10/05/2020 


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