Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Children and Adolescents

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterised by multiple episodes of breathing cessation (apneas) or otherwise disrupted breathing (hypopneas). Each of these events may be accompanied oxygen desaturations, elevations in blood pressure and disrupted sleep.

The short term consequences of this condition are daytime fatigue, sleepiness, mood changes and difficulties with concentration. Such symptoms in children may be confused with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The long term consequences include an increased risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attacks and arrhythmias.

Symptoms of sleep apnea include snoring, witnessed pauses in breathing during sleep, bizarre sleeping positions, bedwetting, stunted growth, hyperactivity, daytime sleepiness and behavioural difficulties. Sleep apnea in children is associated with enlarged tonsils, obesity and craniofacial abnormalities.

Treatment options for sleep apnea include surgery, a Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) device, an oral appliance or conservative measures such as weight loss.

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