Sleep and Sleep Disorders in Children (cont.)
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Sleep Apnea in Children
Sleep apnea is one of the sleep-related breathing disorders. These are disorders which include snoring on one end of the spectrum, and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) on the other end. It is an extremely serious sleep pathology in which the child will struggle to breathe and possibly stop breathing due to enlarged tonsil and adenoid tissues that obstruct the child's upper airway. Parents will report that it sounds as if their child is being choked during sleep. Often, parents will hear pauses in breathing and children may complain of a dry mouth and throat as well as early morning headaches. OSA can lead to learning difficulties, low academic performance and even worsening attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms. OSA can lead to reduced oxygen to the brain and strain of the right side of the heart. If you believe your child may have sleep apnea, you should discuss your concerns with your child's pediatrician. An evaluation by and ENT (ears-nose-throat) specialist is often indicated. It may be helpful to either make an audio or video recording of your sleeping child prior to such an evaluation. The use of the "sleep study," also called overnight polysomnography, is the study of choice to diagnose OSA and other sleep-associated breathing disorders.
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