Few things are scarier than the possibility of a child suffering from sleep apnea. Interruptions in breathing during sleep can affect a child’s physical, cognitive, and emotional development. Behavioral side effects can be particularly damaging for children even in the short term. Managing childhood sleep apnea can be very challenging for parents, guardians, and caretakers which is why it’s especially important that the child in question has a consultation with a sleep apnea specialist as soon as possible.
Childhood Sleep Apnea’s Effect on Behavior
Behavioral can be difficult to identify as an indicator of potential sleep apnea. Children are going through various stages of development depending on their age and for that reason, see regular mood swings and changes in behavior. Some of the behavior changes parents, guardians, and caretakers should be mindful of include:
- Aggressive behavior
- Behavioral Inhibition
- Executive Dysfunction
- Rule Breaking
- Peer Problems
- Conduct Problems
Behavioral regression in childhood is so critical to their development because it can affect their schoolwork, learning, interpersonal relationships, and rule-following patterns. If your child is struggling with any of the behaviors listed above and regularly snores or has trouble sleeping they should be brought in for a consultation with a specialist.
Sleep Apnea’s Effect on Development
Undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea can contribute to associated physical attributes and deficiencies especially in children. Some examples of this include:
- Growth and cognitive delays
- High blood pressure
- Mouth breathing
- Flatter facial features with less facial muscle tone
- Less prominent cheekbones
- Longer faces with smaller lower jaws
- Droopier eyes
How Can Parents Mitigate Development Issues?
Childhood development is a transitionary stage in a person’s life. For example, children’s jaws are not yet fully developed until around age 16. Because they are still growing, children’s physical development leaves room for course correction given they undergo treatment with a sleep apnea specialist. In addition to seeing a doctor as soon as possible, parents can:
- Teach better breathing habits (through the nose, not the mouth)
- Encourage healthier sleeping habits (such as sleep posture)
- Schedule an appointment with a sleep apnea specialist
Sleep Apnea Treatment in Beaufort, SC
Early diagnosis is crucial to allow for the best outcome. It can be challenging to notice the tell-tale signs of sleep apnea in children but with this guide of key identifiers to look for and consulting with a sleep apnea specialist, parents can give their children the best chance at relief. To schedule a consultation, call Dr. Wallace at (843) 410-0345.