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What You Should Know About Sleep Apnea in Kids


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One to four percent of children—primarily between ages two through eight—suffer from sleep apnea, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA). Sleep apnea occurs when breathing stops periodically or for longer stretches during sleep. Oxygen levels in the body may fall and sleep can be disrupted. It’s usually caused by something blocking the upper airway. 

According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), your kid may have sleep apnea if she:

• snores loudly on a regular basis.

• experiences pauses, snorts and gasps that may wake her.

• stops breathing.

• sleeps in abnormal positions. 

• sweats heavily. 

• has difficulty waking up.

• gets headaches, especially in the morning.

• has behavioral, school and social problems.

• speaks with a nasal voice and breathes regularly through her mouth.

If your child exhibits these symptoms, speak with your pediatrician, who may refer you to a sleep specialist or recommend a sleep study. You might also be referred to an ear, nose and throat doctor if enlarged tonsils or adenoids are causing the apnea, or a dentist who may need to fit your kid with an appliance to reposition her jaw and tongue.

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