- Daytime symptoms can be easily overlooked: Difficult to wake up in the morning, irritability, poor attention in school, overactive behavior, increased emotionality and defiance. Sleep can be more restless, there are morning headaches, enuresis, sleep walking, decreased growth rate and decline in school performance. Children can be more aggressive, irritable and have somatic complaints (stomach aches). There is a strong overlap between the symptoms of ADHD and sleep apnea.
- Sleep apnea is more common in children with neurologic disorders; children with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, meningitis or other CNS insult may have poorer pharyngeal tone increasing susceptibility to sleep apnea.
- Children who are younger than six years and those with medical conditions or behavioral difficulties will often need one on one technician monitoring throughout the night.
- Children who snore and have daytime symptoms may need an overnight sleep study.
- The first line of therapy is a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy but this may not bring relief to all children especially those who are obese.
- Treatment is critical given the effects to brain function and neurocognitive deficits.
Kansagra & Vaughn, Pediatric Sleep Apnea, Neurology; clinical practice, August 2013