sleep apnea in children

Yes, 2 to 4 percent of children have a form of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and ten percent snore regularly, leaving them susceptible to the same health risks and problems that occur in adults with OSA, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disease where there is a cessation of airflow for 10 seconds or more. This may occur hundreds of times during the night. While not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, snoring is one of the major indicators.

Does my child have sleep apnea?

If you have observed your child gasping for air, snorting or stopping breathing, he or she may have sleep apnea. Other symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Hyperactivity which is caused by a lack of sleep
  • Bedwetting (in some children)
  • Behavioral problems
  • Poor academic performance

If your child is overweight, or has an abnormality involving the jaw or tongue he or she is at greater risk of developing sleep apnea. Children with muscular problems such as those with cerebral palsy are also at greater risk.

If OSA is not treated, your child can be at risk for:

  • Learning deficits

Poor academic performance can result from interrupted sleep.

  • Stunted growth

Children with OSA may not produce enough growth hormones.

  • Insulin resistance
  • Cardiovascular problems

This includes being at higher risk of high blood pressure.

  • Obesity

Fatigue can lead to a decrease in physical activity. Insulin resistance can be a complicating factor.

How is pediatric OSA treated?

Often, enlarged tonsils or adenoids cause OSA. If so, your child will need to have them removed.  This is a very common treatment for pediatric sleep apnea and is why ear, nose, and throat doctors like those at Raleigh Capitol ENT are uniquely qualified to treat it.

There are more than 500,000 pediatric adenoid and tonsil removal procedures every year, and the majority are performed to correct issues related to sleep apnea, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology. 

We are ear, nose and throat doctors who specialize in treating children

More than half of our patients are under the age of 18, which means we have extensive experience and expertise to help your child with a variety of health issues ranging from sleep apnea to allergies. If your child is snoring and you’re not sure if he or she has OSA, please contact one of our pediatric ENT doctors so we can determine if there are any problems before complications arise.

Raleigh Capitol Ear, Nose, and Throat is the area's premiere physician-owned ENT practice with six convenient locations throughout Wake County. Our board-certified physicians have extensive experience in treating both common and complex cases to help adults and children alike. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us.


American Academy of Otolaryngology. “Pediatric Sleep Disordered Breathing – Obstructive Sleep Apnea.”