What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?
It is a condition in which the airway to your lungs becomes partially or completely closed while you are sleeping. This causes the oxygen in your blood to decrease, causing stress to your cardiovascular system and brain.
The list of symptoms caused by OSA is long. The most common and well known is loud snoring, but you can have OSA without snoring. There is also gasping for breath while sleeping, and multiple awakenings during the night. OSA causes heart and blood vessel disease that can lead to sudden death. It causes increased blood sugar levels in diabetics. It causes daytime sleepiness and reduced ability to remember. OSA is responsible for many motor vehicle accidents, and is particularly dangerous in professional bus and truck drivers. If you are overweight, OSA makes it much harder to lose weight.
OSA in children
Very young children may have OSA, which is often not diagnosed. This can cause growth and development problems, as well as behavior problems. Their academic performance suffers. They have trouble concentrating and learning. They gain weight. The symptoms of OSA in children are so similar to ADHD that many children are misdiagnosed, and are given medications for ADHD instead of having the correct treatment for OSA.
Children with OSA may or may not snore. They generally do not sleep well, and are not refreshed upon awakening. OSA is a common cause of bed-wetting in children. They can have dark circles under their eyes. They may have enlarged tonsils and adenoids, and be prone to upper respiratory infections.
The first treatment for children with OSA is often removal of enlarged tonsils and adenoids. If this does not cure the OSA, there may be inadequate development of the face and jaw. This could require orthodontic treatment to move the teeth and enlarge the jaws. In some cases, surgery is needed to enlarge the jaws.