Sleep apnea in kids causes more than just snores

Some short and long-term health concerns can be avoided by treating childhood sleep apnea.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – A team of medical experts and the American Heart Association report that from 1 to 6 percent of kids have sleep apnea. That could mean a couple of students in any given classroom are running on less sleep than everyone else. Pediatric Cardiologist Dr. Carissa Baker-Smith of Delaware’s Nemours Children’s Hospital says there are more issues that can come up than just trouble with studies.

“We also know that with heart attack and heart disease that sleep apnea is associated with a worsening scenario, and hypertension, and obesity”, says Dr. Baker-Smith. “But it begins in childhood.”

Now that you know the stakes, what do you actually need to look for? For starters, it’s what you’re listening for: snorting, gasping, or heavy snoring every night. That breathing trouble signals sleeping trouble, which could mean lots of fatigue for your kids every single day.

Dr. Baker-Smith puts it into perspective: “I say to parents, ‘Remember the last time you stayed up all night. How did you feel the next day? Was it really hard to focus?’ So, imagine if your child, multiple times per hour each night, they’re not able to get restorative sleep because they’re waking up because of apnea.”

Getting that diagnosis and appropriate treatment can curb issues down the road, but odds are you remember a night with no sleep, and you know how good it feels when you do sleep soundly.

“If you’ve had a good night’s rest”, says Dr. Baker-Smith, “you feel so much better the next day. You’re not as fidgety, you’re not having difficulty focusing, or having difficulty processing.”

Here at the start of the school year, it probably is best to get up on the right side of the bed, so to speak.


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