Obesity can be a common risk factor in adults for developing sleep apnea. But did you know it’s also a common factor in children? It’s true. Children who are overweight have a significantly higher risk of developing sleep apnea and other sleep breathing disorders than their peers who are not obese. As a result of being overweight and developing sleep apnea, they can also face many overall health issues. How do sleep breathing disorders such as sleep apnea and being overweight correlate?
What’s the Connection?
The primary connection between being overweight or obese and having sleep breathing disorders such as sleep apnea is that extra weight on the neck can cause pressure on the airway, which can make it constrict. When the airway constricts, breathing is obstructed.
Other Risk Factors
Other risk factors can contribute to the development of sleep breathing disorders in pediatric patients, too. These risk factors include:
- An undersized upper jaw that failed to develop forward and developed wider than it should
- An undersized lower jaw which is prevented from growing correctly because of an underdeveloped upper jaw
- Narrow airway
- Growth abnormalities of the skull or face
- Craniofacial disorders
- Down syndrome, which can cause large size tongue
- Sickle cell disease
- Neuromuscular diseases
- Cerebral palsy
- Low birth weight
- Pre-term birth
- A family history of obstructive sleep apnea
Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Breathing Disorders
If you’ve identified a risk factor of sleep breathing disorders such as sleep apnea in your child or children, you should also learn the signs so you can be aware if a problem may be present Some signs are pronounced, while others may be harder to notice.
Snoring. Loud snoring and noisy breathing during sleep most nights of the week.
Interruption in breathing. Breathing interruptions, which last for several seconds.
Gasping. Your child gasps for air during sleep.
Mouth breathing. Mouth breathing outside of colds, illness, sinus congestion and allergies can mean that the airway is blocked.
Restlessness. Does your child toss and turn during the night? Frequently wake up throughout the night, nightmares and night terrors can indicate a sleep breathing disorder such as sleep apnea.
Weird sleep positions. Are you noticing that your child arches their neck backward during sleep or sleeps sitting up? These positions may be a subconscious effort to open the airway and get more oxygen during sleep.
Behavior issues. Irritability, frustration, hyperactivity, and outbursts, along with a lack of focus and fatigue, are often signs of a sign of sleep disorder.
Problems in school. Children living with undiagnosed sleep disorders are often labeled as “slow” or “lazy”, and many have difficulty understanding assignments and completing homework.
Bedwetting. Many children living with sleep breathing disorders such as sleep apnea frequently wet the bed, even after being potty trained.
Illness. Ear infections, throat infections and chronic tonsillitis or problems with the adenoids can be a symptom of sleep-disordered breathing.
Do you suspect your child has a sleep breathing disorder? If so, call us at Face ForWARD Orthodontics today at 214-304-8485.