Sleep apnea is a common sleep condition that stops breathing shortly throughout the night. These momentary pauses occur many times throughout the night and affect about 22 million adults and 4% of children younger than eight years old (CITE). Both adults and children are at risk for the same health problems caused by this condition. This includes health issues such as, heart disease, cognitive problems, and fatigue during the day. Children are also susceptible to other health problems such as developmental issues. There are a few similarities in symptoms between adults and children, but there are also some differences.
Sleep Apnea in Children
Many children with this common sleep condition are diagnosed with pediatric obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia one of the main causes of OSA is enlarged tonsils and adenoids. While asleep, there is a decrease in muscle tone:
“Many of these children have little difficulty breathing when awake; however, with decreased muscle tone during sleep, the airway becomes smaller, and the tonsils and adenoids block the airway, making the flow of air more difficult and the work of breathing harder.”
It’s common for overweight children to suffer from OSA as well as kids with muscle weakness, craniofacial syndromes, or Down Syndrome. All of this leads to a variety of different symptoms. Children with sleep apnea may snore, breathing through their mouth, and appear restless throughout the night. There are also daytime signs of OSA as well, including but not limited to, tiredness throughout the day, behavior issues, and problems in school.
Sleep Apnea in Adults
If you don’t have sleep apnea someone you know does. As stated above this sleep condition is common in adults, but there are some differences in symptoms when compared to children. Sleep apnea in adults more commonly affects those who have a large neck circumference or are overweight. Almost all adults will snore loudly if they have sleep apnea and wake up with a sore or dry throat. The symptoms don’t stop there; a few other common signs include feeling tired even after a full night of sleep, restless sleep, and morning headaches. Sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, and diabetes if left untreated.
Regardless of the age, all those suffering from sleep apnea can seek treatment. Those with this common condition can lose weight, change sleeping positions, or use a CPAP. Treatments for sleep apnea aren’t limited to what’s listed; it’s important to consult a doctor for the best course of action.