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Does My Child Have Sleep Apnea?

English: A pediatric patient prepared for a po...

A pediatric patient prepared for a polysomnogram.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


If your child is snoring at night, there may be cause for concern.  Snoring, which is one of the most common signs of sleep apnea in both children and adults, is not something that you should just ignore in the hopes that it goes away.  It may indicate that your child is one of the estimated 1-4% of children in this country who have this sleep disorder and it is very likely that they will not grow out of it as they grow up.  In fact, diagnosing and treating sleep apnea in children can have a very real impact on every aspect of their lives, now and in the future.  If you think your child may be struggling with sleep apnea, watch for these signs and symptoms and make an appointment with their pediatrician to discuss your concerns.



Signs and Symptoms


Sleep apnea in children can cause similar symptoms to those experienced by adults including:


  • loud snoring that occurs on a regular basis
  • breathing pauses during sleep
  • gasping and snorting during sleep
  • restless sleep
  • bed-wetting or sleepwalking
  • sleeping with their head in an awkward or unusual position
  • sweating heavily during sleep
  • struggling to wake up in the morning
  • waking feeling tired and unrefreshed
  • struggling with behavioral problems at school
  • frequent headaches, especially in the morning
  • being irritable and cranky
  • falling asleep during the day





Children with sleep apnea may struggle in school because of behavioral problems, excessive daytime sleepiness, and difficulty paying attention.  Sleep apnea can also contribute to obesity and hormonal and metabolic problems.  As the condition is unlikely to disappear as they grow older, as adults, these children will be at a higher risk for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, and pre-mature death.



Diagnosis and Treatment


If you suspect your child is struggling with a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, start by discussing your concerns with their pediatrician.  If a referral is needed, Valley Sleep Center has certified sleep physicians who specialize in treating sleep disorders and disturbances in children.  Diagnosis of sleep disorders in children is done the same way it is with adults, using a sleep study or polysomnography.  This generally involves spending the night at a sleep lab where various data including vital signs and brain activity can be monitored and analyzed.  Unfortunately, unlike adults, there is not enough information available on the viability of conducting sleep testing at home so all testing for children is done in a sleep lab.


The most common treatment for children with obstructive sleep apnea that is severe enough to require treatment is surgery to remove their adenoids and tonsils.  In 70-90% of cases, this surgery eliminates all symptoms.  In those cases where symptoms remain after the surgery, CPAP machines (continuous positive air pressure) similar to those used by adults can be used to alleviate the remaining symptoms.


The impacts of living with undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea can be serious, significant, and long lasting.  If you think your child has sleep apnea, don’t wait to get them the help they need to get a good night sleep.






Client Reviews

"I was especially impressed with Andrew the Respiratory Therapist who reviewed my study with me and answered my questions. Andrew thoroughly explained everything about the Cpap machine-from start to finish. I never felt rushed and was assured I could contact him with any additional questions or needs. Andrew told me he would follow up with a call in a week and he did. I believe this center performed the study appropriately and the added benefit of having Andrew teach me about the machine and what to expect was a bonus."

Candace M.

Scottsdale, AZ

"I recommend them highly!! I took my 2 year old daughter for a sleep study and was very impressed. Our sleep technician was amazing with her, very patient and kind. The DVD we brought to watch while getting her hooked up got stuck in the TV and they vowed to return it. We got a call the next day checking on our daughter and saying how sweet she was, they mentioned the DVD. Several days later, we received the DVD plus a new copy of the Lion King with a nice note. They are very good at what they do and if they can make a 2 year old feel at ease, they can probably do the same with anyone!!"

Anthea S.

Tempe, AZ

"Great staff, they make you feel so at home. Every medical facility should be this nice. Felt like a nice hotel. Someone has great taste in decorating. Thanks for making us feel at home."

Steve N.

San Diego, CA