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Could Your Child Have Sleep Apnea?

In the most basic terms, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder that makes you stop breathing for brief periods of time while you are asleep. A normal inspiration consists of air flowing in through your nose, mouth and throat. OSA results in a partial or complete obstruction of this upper airway, thus, blocking the flow of oxygen into your lungs. This disruption can wake you up several times during the same night.

OSA symptoms can be different for adults or children

Children suffering from this sleep disorder can become irritable when they get up in the morning. Other symptoms of sleep apnea in children include morning headaches, snoring, strenuous breathing, lack of attention and concentration at school, tiredness, chronic daytime sleepiness and behavioral problems. Sometimes, the underlying cause of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Sleep apnea in infants requires an apnea monitor.

Tips for treating sleep apnea in children:

  • Choose a mask that is not too tight on your child’s face.
  • Recommend that your child sleeps on his back or on his side while using the machine.
  • The CPAP device should be used every night in order to improve chances of success in treating sleep apnea.
  • Other sleep studies will need to be done for future follow-ups; the sleep team will adjust the pressure if needed and will determine the efficiency of this technique with time.

Enlarged Tonsils and Adenoids.

A small or receding jaw, or a large tongue, can also lead to Sleep Apnea since they are obstructing the airway. These are common characteristics found in children suffering from genetic disorders such as Apert, Crouzon or Down syndromes.

Another factor of risk is an excessive relaxation of the throat muscles. When you sleep, it is normal that muscles controlling your mouth, tongue and pharynx tend to relax slightly. However, in some children with OSA, the muscles may relax too much. The tongue and the roof of the mouth (the palate) may then press against the back of the throat, resulting in an obstruction of the airway.

Does your child have sleep apnea?

About 1 to 3 % of children are diagnosed with OSA every year. If your child snores, it is recommended to investigate the cause of the snoring, as this may be an indicative sign of Sleep Apnea.

The first step to treat a child with OSA is the referral to an ear, nose and throat physician who will examine the size of tonsils and adenoids and determine the need to remove them surgically (adenotonsillectomy). This procedure is curative in approximately 80% of cases.

CPAP treatment for children

When tonsils and adenoids are normal in size, the most commonly used treatment option is the CPAP machine (continuous positive airway pressure); a device that provides a constant flow of pressurized air that works to maintain an open airway. It consists of a small machine that blows air through a mask properly fitted to your child’s nose or face.

Cheap CPAP Supplies offers a variety of Pediatric CPAP Masks and Machines, like the ResMed Pixi — which s designed specifically for children ages two to seven years old. The MiniMe 2 Nasal Mask is another great option for children using CPAP: the Enhanced Custom Fit Technology™ enables the mask to be molded to a child’s face to ensure comfort.

Numerous scientific studies have described the clinical benefits of CPAP machines. They not only reduce snoring and sleep fragmentation, they also improve breathing during sleep (Oxygen saturation), cognition and behavior, as well as subjective and objective daytime sleepiness.

Ultimately, CPAP machines are recommended in cases of mild, moderate and especially severe cases of Sleep Apnea. Sleep apnea in infants is quite different and requires a different approach to sleep apnea.

Setting up your child’s CPAP machine

In order to set the correct pressure on the CPAP machine, your child will need to spend one night in a sleep study; the goal is to set a pressure that will promote the best breathing.

After this study, a prescription will list a specific pressure that will help treat your child’s apnea most effectively. allows parents to send the prescription online.

Once your prescription is in the system, it can be used multiple times and you will not need to send it back.

Stay consistent with treatment

You will have to make sure that you are guiding your child every step of the way when they begin using their CPAP. Staying compliant with treatment is the best option for your child’s health.

Finally, it is important to mention that sleep should be effortless for children. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is perturbation of peaceful sleeping, which can compromise the daily life of any individual. Treatment of OSA aims to improve your child’s performance and behavior during the day as well as his quality of life.

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