If you have sleep apnea, then you'll want to watch your children for signs that they might have sleep apnea too. And you'll want to be the best role model possible, setting an example of following your treatment plan and putting your health as the top priority.
Sleep Apnea May Be Inherited
In some cases, certain factors that contribute to obstructive sleep apnea can actually be inherited. These include anatomical features like a deviated septum, narrow airway, a thick neck, or a round head. Allergies, excess growth hormone, and hypothyroidism can also increase your risk of sleep apnea and might be inherited.
If a child has a sibling or parent with obstructive sleep apnea, then their chance of developing it is about 50 percent greater than the general public.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea in Children
You'll want to watch your children closely if you have sleep apnea. Children's symptoms can be different from adults' symptoms. Rather than being extra sleepy during the day, children might present with behavioral issues or learning difficulties. In fact, sometimes children who have sleep apnea are misdiagnosed as having ADHD because the symptoms can be similar. They may have poor weight gain, trouble paying attention, or be hyperactive, for example.
While they're sleeping, children with sleep apnea may snore, pause their breathing, cough or choke, breathe through their mouth, wet the bed, or have sleep terrors.
Testing and Treatments
It's best to see your doctor if you suspect your child may have sleep apnea. Testing may include an electrocardiogram to check on the heart or an overnight sleep study. A sleep study is rather simple and just involves sleeping at a testing center overnight with sensors to record brain activity, oxygen levels, heart rate, and breathing.
Children with sleep apnea may have different treatments depending on the cause. They might be given medicine like nasal steroids if they have allergies or mild osa. If the tonsils or adenoids are causing the issue, they may need surgery. Some children may need a CPAP machine or an oral appliance to help manually keep the airway open while they're asleep.
Be a Good Role Model
Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can lead to heart problems and other issues down the line. So it's important to follow any treatment the doctor suggests if your child is diagnosed with sleep apnea.
It's equally important that as a parent, you're following your own treatment too. Your child will see you as a role model and an example of how to successfully live with sleep apnea. Be open about your treatment and talk to your child about what you do and why. Your child will feel less alone and more understood if you're talking about your treatment too and pursuing a healthier future together.
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