Does your child snore loudly, breathe through their mouth, sweat heavily, or have periods of not breathing during sleep? Does your child have difficulty learning in school or sleep in odd positions to keep the airway open? If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, your child may have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
More than two million children in the United States suffer from sleep apnea, a treatable condition in which your child’s breathing is briefly and repeatedly blocked during sleep, reducing the amount of oxygen available to the brain and heart and severely disrupting sleep.
Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea in children can include:
- Being hyperactive
- Being unusually sleepy during the day
- Frequent infections of the tonsils, adenoids, and/or ear
- Heart problems
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Learning disorders and behavioral problems, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Morning headaches
- Poor growth (“failure to thrive”)
- Problems with cognition and school performance
Due to the health and safety concerns posed by sleep apnea, the condition should be evaluated and treated by doctors with specialized expertise in sleep apnea and related sleep and health conditions. The sleep medicine experts at the University of Miami Health System are experienced in diagnosing and treating sleep apnea in children.
Sleep Study An adult or pediatric sleep study (also called polysomnography) is performed in our sleep clinic. While you sleep, we collect information such as breathing patterns, blood oxygen levels, brain wave activity, muscle tone, heart rhythm, and eye movements. This information is captured using small, painless electrodes attached to your body and elastic bands around your chest and abdomen.
Because we’re open 24/7, we offer a variety of studies including:
- Maintenance wakefulness test (MWT): measures how alert you are during the day
- Multiple latency sleep test (MSLT): a test that checks your daytime sleepiness by monitoring how quickly you fall asleep in a quiet, daytime environment
- Round-the-clock, all-night continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP): a breathing machine that constantly pushes air through the nose, or nose and mouth, to keep the airways open while you sleep
Sleep Endoscopy Sleep endoscopy, also called drug-induced sleep endoscopy, is a minimally invasive procedure that allows the doctor to see what’s happening in the upper airways while you’re sedated. It involves inserting a thin, flexible tube with a camera through the nose to view the degree of collapse at different levels of the airway. The procedure is performed in an operating room as an outpatient (no overnight hospital stay) and takes about a day to recover.
CPAP and BiPAP Therapies Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is a breathing machine that constantly pushes air through the nose, or nose and mouth, to keep the airways open while you sleep. The therapy involves a variety of masks and pressure settings based on your specific needs. CPAP is a very effective non-surgical treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. Modern devices are small, quiet, and more comfortable than older versions.
For people with difficulty exhaling using CPAP machines, bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) therapy can help. BiPAP breathing machines use bilevel pressure, or one level for inhalation and a lower level for exhalation, making it easier to breathe.
Medicine Depending on your condition, your doctor may prescribe medicines to reduce symptoms that make it even harder to breath. These can include nasal spray decongestants to thin mucus or corticosteroids to reduce inflammation.
Myofunctional Therapy Myofunctional therapy for obstructive sleep apnea includes a variety of therapies and behavior modifications to open airways and improve breathing. A certified myofunctional therapist teaches you exercises to strengthen or retrain muscles in the face and mouth, and helps you stop bad habits, like improper head position, while you sleep. It is also used after surgery, such as maxillomandibular advancement or frenuloplasty for tongue-tie.
Oral Devices Mild forms of obstructive sleep apnea may respond to devices you put in your mouth to improve airflow while you sleep. Some customized devices can help align the jaws or keep the tongue from falling into the throat.
Sleep Surgery Sleep surgery for obstructive sleep apnea may be a first line treatment or an option after other treatments fail. The type of surgery depends on where and why the obstruction happens and the patient’s age. In children, removing the tonsils and/or adenoids is usually enough to make more room in the airways.
Weight Loss Obesity and extra weight can cause or worsen symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea by adding pressure to the upper airway system. Our sleep medicine team can help you reach optimum health with exercises, nutritional counseling, and behavioral health services.
Why Choose UHealth?
Regional leaders in sleep medicine and sleep surgery. As a fully accredited comprehensive sleep center, our program meets and exceeds the rigorous standards set by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. This designation recognizes our facility, services, and providers for the highest commitment to safety and quality care.
Multispecialty care customized for your good health and overall wellness. Depending on your condition, your team can include ear, nose, and throat doctors (ENT), pulmonologists (lung specialists), neurologists, psychiatrists, and weight management specialists with special expertise in sleep disorders. You receive the best care possible when we’re all working together for you.
Sleep studies offered 24/7 in a state-of-the-art sleep center. You can rest assured that you receive the most advanced care available. Sleep studies and tests are conducted in a modern, comfortable center — including the latest technology and a friendly, knowledgeable staff.
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