Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Children

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can strike at any age. While it is startling to discover that an adult patient may not be breathing well at night, it is very upsetting to see children that are affected.

While sleep apnea has several known causes, OSA is frequently caused by a blockage, closure, or collapse of the airway.

I am writing this blog to share my recent experience with my own child and her experience with OSA. My daughter is three and a half years old. She is not the person you would expect to have OSA.

Over the course of several months, my wife and I became aware that our daughter was consistently snoring throughout the night. Let me try to give you an idea of the magnitude of this. We could hear our daughter snoring from the hallway outside her room with her door only open a crack!

The second sign was that she would wake up in the middle of the night, walk into our bedroom, climb into bed with my wife and I, and continue to have a restless night’s sleep. She would consistently thrash around, sit-up, and kick her little legs. At the time, this seemed like a normal “little kid thing to do.”

Finally, one night I was having trouble sleeping and as luck would have it, our daughter was sleeping in our bed that night. As I watched her sleep I noticed something disturbing. I could see her little lungs start to expand, as she was beginning to inhale. Her chest would slowly start to expand and then suddenly stop. There would be a pause and I could observe her chest muscles strain to force open her airway. The following breath was more of a choking, gargled, gasp than actual breathing.

While the signs had been present for some time, I’m embarrassed to say, it took me awhile to piece them together. After consulting with my uncle who is an otolaryngologist and conducting a visual inspection of my daughter’s throat, I was sure she had OSA. Her tonsils blocked approximately 85% of her airway! When my wife took her to the pediatrician, the pediatrician gasped and said, “Those are the biggest tonsils I have ever seen on a three year old!”

She recently underwent a tonsillectomy and is sleeping better then we could have imagined. If you or a loved one suspects OSA, please do not hesitate to contact 58 Dental. A comprehensive exam, with a focus on OSA, can be the starting point for a tentative diagnosis. In addition, there are several dental appliances that can be fabricated to help alleviate the symptoms of OSA. The team at 58 Dental stands ready to assist those in need of a good night’s sleep. #weshouldtalk