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Sleep Apnea & Behavior Problems

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

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Once school starts, some parents may be noticing some changes in their child. They may be having trouble focusing in class or on their homework leading mom and dad to think, “Does my child have ADHD?” But new information out shows the difficulty with concentration might be caused by sleep apnea.

According to pediatric ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. Stephen Landers with Our Children’s House at Baylor, there can be several reasons why your child may not be concentrating in school. “They don’t get enough sleep, they aren’t spending time in bed,” he says. Another contributing factor can be large tonsils and adenoids. “They can be a problem with the physical obstruction of the airway.”

Sleep apnea can occur at any age, but Dr. Landers says it’s common in children between three and six years of age. “During the day you see the classic child with the mouth breathing, that’s the thing you can see and you can even hear them across the room.” At night, a tell-tale sign is loud snoring. “Loud snoring is certainly part of the presentation, gasping, snorting, that type of thing. Then you get periods when they’re not breathing at all, that’s apnea.”

Dr. Landers says parents should monitor their child’s sleep twice nightly if they suspect sleep apnea to listen to what is going on. The normal course of treatment is the removal of the tonsils and possible adenoids.

More Information: What is Sleep Apnea (American Academy of Pediatrics)

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