Sleep Apnea doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter your age, race, ethnicity, or sex. The problem is, the stereotype is a middle-aged, overweight, male. When stereotypes like this exist it makes the people who aren’t part of that stereotype think they can’t get Sleep Apnea.
The harm of the stereotype
You’re probably no stranger to the danger of stereotypes, but it’s usually in context of discrimination. In this case, it’s with a very real condition. This preconceived notion of what someone with Sleep Apnea should look like is the exact reason many people with OSA actually get diagnosed with insomnia. Women and children the main sufferers of this since both are far out of the stereotype.
Children really do get it
About 1-4% of children have Sleep Apnea – that’s about as much children that have autism – yet, how many children have you heard of being diagnosed with it? This rate is much lower than the amount of adults that get Sleep Apnea and adult women were 3x as likely to have OSA. However low, it’s still a prevalent enough amount that it’s cause for concern. It’s also just as important to get your children tested as it is you.
Why children are less likely to get it
As dangerous as the stereotype is, there’s a reason this one came to be about. Sleep Apnea can largely be caused by extra fatty tissue. Since Children are statistically less likely to be overweight, they are also statistically less likely to have Sleep Apnea. In fact, this is what makes Sleep Apnea much different in children.
How Sleep Apnea affects children differently
As I just brought up, children usually are less obese than adults. With that in mind, how is it that children can also get Sleep Apnea if they don’t have fatty tissue putting pressure on the airway?
One thing children have that’s different than adults is problematic adenoids/thyroids. As adults, we know whether or not our adenoids/thyroids are going to be a problem and have dealt with the issue. But the fact of the matter is that children still have those organs, and among other issues, they can also give them Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
Surgery as an option
Luckily, this difference gives children a different solution to treatment: surgery. While adults usually shy away from surgery as it doesn’t work so well, it is much more effective on children. Simply removing the inflamed adenoid/thyroid can usually solve the problem. While this is an invasive surgery and not fun, it’s likely something that would have had to be done anyway.
Childhood obesity is the other main cause of childhood Sleep Apnea. If you find that your child still has apnealike symptoms after the surgery such as snoring, tiredness, and lack of energy, you may want to seek further treatment. Sadly, if the surgery doesn’t work then the child will likely have to try an oral appliance, a CPAP, or attempt positional sleep therapy.
Watching out for all the signs of Sleep Apnea is just as important in adults as it is kids. If you’re interested in our treatment protocol you can find it here. Keep in mind, a regular doctor might not be able to always diagnose sleep apnea. If you think your child has it then it’s best to consult a professional, specialized sleep doctor or sleep dentist.