Contrary to what is thought sleep apnea is not just a condition suffered by adults. It can occur in children too. School-age children whose sleeping routines are disrupted and are unable to get enough sleep can have serious problems in school. For example, they can develop memory and learning impairment!
"Sleep Apnea” is a condition in which respiration stops during sleep and is seen more frequently in adults but can cause harm to children as well. In fact studies show that 7-10 percent of children develop snoring and 2-4 percent develop sleep apnea. While the cause is not really known, sleep apnea, seen more frequently in boys, can have a serious impact on the child’s grades and social life at school. Acibadem Bakırköy Hospital Otolaryngology Specialist Prof. Dr. Ferhan Öz, explained the negative effects of sleep apnea on children’s school life and the types of treatment he administers to help patients get quality sleep.
Enlarged tonsils and adenoids are the most frequent causes
Respiratory irregularity during sleep, snoring, kicking off covers and perspiring while sleeping, tossing and turning in sleep, tilting head back to breath better and stopping breathing even just once characterize irregular sleep. Otolaryngology Specialist Prof. Dr. Ferhan Öz pointed out that enlarged tonsils and adenoids blocking the airways are the most frequent causes of irregular breathing during sleep. “As a result a very serious condition like sleep apnea, or in other words stopping breathing during sleep, can occur. Also being overweight, allergies and asthma, reflux, a large tongue and developmental disorders in the facial structure are other factors that contribute to sleep apnea.”
My child is having trouble learning, gets aggressive and impatient!
Otolaryngology Specialist Prof. Dr. Ferhan Öz listed the problems that sleep apnea causes for children in school:
It makes it hard for the child to concentrate in classes,
It reduces the child’s ability to expand his vocabulary, to memorize and to learn.
Children whose sleeping patterns are disrupted and who don’t get enough sleep can also be irritable and impatient. This can cause them to have serious problems at school with their friends and their teachers.
Serious developmental and character problems can occur as a result
Otolaryngology Specialist Prof. Dr. Ferhan Öz warned that children with sleep apnea can develop serious developmental and character problems in connection with the lack of oxygen and added the following information: “For example the child can develop structural disorders on his face, jaw and mouth. The growth hormone is secreted less in children with sleep apnea. When hyperactive behavior during the day is added to this the child does not achieve sufficient weight and height goals.”
A simple operation provides a definite solution
Otolaryngology Specialist Prof. Dr. Ferhan Öz said that if the child’s problems are being caused by upper respiratory infections medical treatment is needed and added “If the use of proper antibiotics or the treatment of conditions that contribute to such problems like allergies and reflux, help improve the quality of life for the child it means the treatment has been successful.” Pointing out that if the respiratory problems recur despite treatment a different approach must be taken, Prof. Dr. Ferhan Öz added: “If the tonsils and adenoid are enlarged surgery is recommended. Thanks to modern technology the tonsil and adenoid operations of our day are a lot less complicated. The child is easily able to return to school one week after the operation. Tonsil and adenoid operations are completely successful in children with sleep apnea problems. Since the child is able to get quality sleep after the operation he does much better in school.”
Check and see! Is your child getting a healthy sleep?
The following symptoms indicate that your child may have a sleep apnea problem. If any of these symptoms apply to your child it is very important in terms of your child’s health, to see an otolaryngology specialist as soon as possible.
Snoring and wheezing,
Perspiration from the waist up, especially the head,
Tossing and turning from side to side and uneasy sleeping,
Changing position by pushing head back to breathe easier,
Having trouble getting up in the morning,
Morning headache and bad breath.