Sleep apnea is quite a common condition nowadays, which is being diagnosed in an increasing number of children and teenagers. It is connected with inability to breathe freely while sleeping due to certain obstructions formed in the airway (can be caused by increased adenoids or other respiratory system conditions). Sleep apnea in kids is usually linked to many unwanted side effects including chronic fatigue, inability to get focused and other attention problems, a lack of academic success, as well as numerous behavioral problems. Scientists attribute these problems to inability of children with sleep apnea as due to this kind of disorder kids can not have good quality sleep at night and wake up very often. Fortunately, there are opportunities for quite effective types of treatment for sleep apnea in kids.
It is a known fact that nowadays, there are a number of technologies allowing to keep chidrens’ airway open all night long. Most of those are special positive airway pressure (PAP) devices built to pump air and keep the kid’s airway open during all night. However, most of such devices are quite large and can be really hard to tolerate at night, especially by little kids. That is why a group of scientists initiated a series of researches and started looking for new ways to develop a treatment to help bring relieve to all children with sleep apnea, without surgeries or any other type of risky and dangerous interventions. What they came up with as a result of their investigations is actually not a something new, but rather a new approach to using the good old PAP machines.
The idea is using the devices just for only 3 hours a night. The technology was tested on 52 children aged 12 (on average), most of who had obvious developmental problems caused partially by their inability to have a proper sleep due to chronic sleep apnea. For three months the children were asked to use PAP machines for just 3 hours every night, and the results were really promising. Carole L. Marcus, a study leader and a professor of pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, reported that: “The main message is that treatment, although it may be difficult to tolerate, can result in a significant improvement in childhood behavior symptoms and quality of life.”
Certainly, this type of treatment can still be problematic as not many children will be willing to wear bulky PAP devices even for a short period of time. However, it can be a solution for those children with sleep apnea, who have other health conditions (including high stages of obesity) and can not be considered candidates for surgery as a treatment option. Undoubtedly, using a successful and good treatment for sleep apnea in kids will substantially improve life quality, general development and behavior of children. Read more about these findings in the latest issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.