Common Causes of Sleep Apnea in Children

Children need adequate sleep to facilitate proper mental, physical and emotional development. However, some children suffer from chronic sleep deprivation due to sleep apnea. Here are a few common causes of the condition, as well as information about available treatment services that can help your child get the quality sleep they need.

Enlarged Tonsils and Adenoids 

The tonsils are soft tissue masses located on either side of the back of the throat. The adenoids are also soft tissue masses that are located just behind the soft palate, on the roof of the mouth. Both adenoids and tonsils help fight infections when they are working properly. However, when they become enlarged, they can cause sleep apnea by obstructing the airways and inhibiting the proper flow of oxygen.

If swelling is in the tonsils and adenoids is due to infection, an antibiotic may be recommended. In other cases, the tonsils and/or adenoids may be removed completely through surgical services.   

Choanal Stenosis 

Choanal stenosis is an abnormal narrowing of the choana, which leads from the back of the nose to the throat. It is a congenital deformity that can cause dangerous sleep apnea. Depending on the severity of the case, nasal reconstruction or other surgery may be recommended to restore proper breathing.   

Underdeveloped Upper or Lower Jaw 

When the upper or lower jaw are underdeveloped, it can overcrowd the tongue and cause it to be pushed back towards the throat. This increases the likelihood of airway obstruction, especially during sleep. Surgical options are available to lengthen the jaw and improve the flow of air through airways. 

Emergency Considerations

In addition to these common causes of sleep apnea in children, the condition can also be caused by serious and deadly problems as well, including collapse of the trachea or larynx. In dangerous cases like this, emergency tracheostomy services may be required in order to restore proper breathing function as quickly as possible.

Contact Craniofacial Foundation of Utah for more information regarding sleep apnea and other conditions caused by craniofacial abnormalities.