Child obesity in the United States is increasing at an alarming rate, which will inevitably result in the development of various health issues and conditions in the future of overweight children. While diabetes remains at the forefront of health concerns, few parents of overweight children realize that yet another threat endangers their child while he or she is asleep. This condition is sleep apnea, which is a potentially life-threatening sleep disorder which may affect young children who are overweight.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea refers to a sleep disorder which causes a patient to have difficulty breathing throughout the night due to a closed airway. While sleep apnea most often affects middle-aged men, overweight children are also at an increased risk of developing the disorder. Sleep apnea can cause the patient to wake up several times throughout the night when he or she is unable to breathe. This results in restless sleep, and can prevent the patient from receiving the amount of rest that he or she needs to grow and recover.
How Does Sleep Apnea Affect My Child?
Children are growing at an accelerated rate, especially before and throughout adolescence. Their bodies require a certain amount of sleep in order to develop in a healthy way. Most children need at least 8 hours of sleep each night. When children are sleep deprived, you may notice problems in their performance in school, with their friends, and in their extracurricular activities.
However, these issues may be indicative of ADHD as opposed to sleep apnea, so it is important to determine the cause through consulting a trusted medical professional.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
The most common sleep apnea symptom that obese children will experience is snoring. While it may seem cute at first, snoring can actually indicate that your child is not getting the sleep that he or she needs. Schedule an appointment with a doctor immediately if your child’s breathing pauses while he or she is sleeping. Without examination, this condition can worsen in the future and may be exacerbated by aging and increased weight gain.
How Can I Help My Child?
The first priority is to consult a doctor about what steps you can take to help your child sleep better. A set schedule can help your child receive more hours of rest, and may eventually lead to better sleeping habits. Your child’s doctor may also suggest putting your child on a better diet in order to lose weight in a healthy way. Make sure not to use food as a form of punishment, and you will want to avoid talking to your child about his or her weight—this can cause body image issues and may lead to poor self-esteem development in the future.
Schedule a Sleep Study With Dr. Shukla
If your child is overweight and is having difficulty breathing while sleeping, schedule a sleep study with sleep specialist Dr. Mayank Shukla today.