Sleep Apnea in Children - Could Your Child Be at Risk?

Posted Jun 20, 2011 by Kristen P. in CPAP & Sleep Apnea Info

Sleep Apnea in ChildrenAs sleep apnea—and other forms of sleep-disordered breathing—gain recognition and awareness in mainstream culture, many people assume that these breathing disorders affect only adults. And while the vast majority of new cases of apnea are diagnosed in the adult population, doctors are seeing increased numbers of children exhibiting symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing. The symptoms, risk factors, ramifications, and treatments in the pediatric population can be quite different than in their adult counterparts.

Current estimates state that from 1 to 3 percent of the current US pediatric population suffer from the most common form of sleep-disordered breathing, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). And, like adults who suffer from the same disorder, the first sign of OSA is usually snoring. While this symptom alone cannot conclusively diagnose OSA (up to 20 percent of children will show some degree of snoring, often intermittently), there are other signs that may point to some form of sleep apnea.

Signs, Symptoms & Risk Factors

  • Snoring at night
  • Difficulty waking up
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Headaches during the day
  • Labored breathing while sleeping
  • Restless sleep
  • Blue-ish tint to the skin while sleeping
  • Breathing through the mouth consistently
  • Enlarged tonsils and adenoids
  • Irritability, aggressiveness, or excess agitation
  • Abnormal urine production and/or bedwetting
  • Failure to thrive or slow growth
  • Daytime hyperactivity or a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD (now thought to possibly be related to untreated sleep apnea in certain cases)

Evaluations for Childhood Sleep Apnea

As awareness increases about the pervasiveness of sleep-disordered breathing in the population, more and more physicians have sleep apnea on their radar, but parents may still need to push for a sleep study if concerns exist. Pediatric OSA can often be difficult to diagnose as the symptoms are non-specific and can be indicative of many normal aspects of childhood. Untreated OSA in children can often have severe ramifications, with some studies showing negatively affected growth, IQ, and school performance.

To diagnose OSA definitively, the child should see an ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist for evaluation. An examination and detailed catalog of symptoms by someone familiar with OSA in children will most likely lead to a polysomnography – the same type of sleep study done in adults to monitor the patient for signs of OSA or other sleep disorders.

Treatment for Pediatric Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Treatments for OSA in children are generally quite different than for those in adults (who are almost always recommended CPAP treatment). The first recommendation for children is generally surgery to remove the (often enlarged) tonsils and adenoids. In up to 90% of cases this surgery will resolve the disordered breathing problems without further treatment.

Other treatments may include allergy treatment, weight loss plans (if needed), nasal steroids, or CPAP therapy. It is important to remember that children with an OSA diagnosis may not continue to experience sleep-disordered breathing when they get older.

References and Links for More Information

Could My Child Have Sleep Apnea?
Having Your Child Evaluated for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
About Pediatric Sleep Apnea
Kids and Sleep Apnea
Sleep Apnea at KidsHealth.org

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New Respironics TrueBlue CPAP Mask with Auto Seal Technology

Posted Jun 20, 2011 by Kristen P. in CPAP Products

New Respironics TrueBlue CPAP MaskThe newest nasal mask available from Philips Respironics has recently been announced - the TrueBlue Nasal CPAP Mask is a blue gel nasal mask that also has a new feature from Respironics - Auto Seal technology. Designed for those who love the comfort of a gel mask and the easy-sealing properties of a standard mask cushion, the True Blue brings the best of Respironics' technologies together in one mask.

The TrueBlue gel nasal mask with Auto Seal is designed to deliver a higher degree of comfort, stability, and freedom of movement with minimal adjustments. TrueBlue is available in five comfortable sizes: petite, small, medium, medium wide, and large.

The TrueBlue CPAP mask will be available for purchase in our store some time in the beginning of July. Please check back for more details!

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Truck Drivers and Sleep Apnea

Posted Jun 10, 2011 by Kristen P. in CPAP & Sleep Apnea Info

Truck Drivers with Sleep ApneaThe incidence rate of sleep apnea in the truck driving industry has received a lot of needed awareness over the past few years. Recent studies show that up to 50 percent of truck drivers are considered to be obese (as compared to 34 percent of the adult male population in other industries), and some industry estimates say that over a quarter of truck drivers have some form of sleep apnea.

With this realization comes the fairly scary assumption that truck drivers with untreated sleep apnea are tired drivers - drivers who are on our roadways far more than an average office worker with daytime drowsiness would be. This idea has sparked many debates within the trucking industry, the Department of Transportation agencies in each state, and Congress.

Below are quotes from a 2010 article by Jeff Casale on the state of regulations surrounding sleep apnea treatment and diagnosis, and truck driving:

"According to a 2002 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration commissioned study, out of 3.4 million licensed commercial drivers, approximately 26% of drivers suffering from some form of sleep apnea. Studies have shown that sleep apnea can severely impact driving performance by greatly increasing fatigue, boosting the risk of crashes."

"'I promise you there are thousands of commercial drivers out there that have some form of sleep apnea,' said Don Osterberg, vp of safety and driver training for Green Bay, Wis.-based Schneider National Inc. 'Many drivers don't want to talk about it, or are in denial that they have a medical condition, or don't even know they have it. They are not educated on sleepiness, and they might think that daytime sleepiness is normal to them and they don't realize it is abnormal.'

Mr. Osterberg said at least 17% of drivers at Schneider are afflicted with severe sleep apnea. To deal with the issue, Mr. Osterberg said Schneider recently funded an initiative to help diagnose and treat their drivers as a way to help mitigate health care costs and reduce the crash risk on the road.

As a result, Mr. Osterberg said Schneider has seen a 'significant reduction' in the frequency and severity of crashes.

'Making this a safety priority has paid back dividends,' he said."

For the full article contents, click here.

This article, and many more like it, bring up some serious concerns that can affect all US drivers, not just individuals with sleep apnea. Do you think that sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment standards in the trucking industry needs to be regulated by the Federal government, or do believe it can best be 'policed' through the individual trucking companies? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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We Don't Get Sleep Because We Don't 'Get' Sleep

Posted Jun 2, 2011 by Kristen P. in Lifestyle

Insomnia and Better Understanding Your SleepInsomnia is a common problem, and over-the-counter sleep aids are a billion dollar industry. Everywhere people are trying to get sleep, yet, according to a recent Huffington Post article, no one really understands what sleep is and what its function is supposed to be in our life. Dr. Rubin Naiman, Ph.D. has an interesting (if somewhat controversial) take on sleep theory and how modern day man's views on sleep affect how we actually sleep each night.

The full article is available online at Huffington Post, but below are a few of our favorite excerpts:

"I believe the main reason we struggle with epidemic sleep disorders is our failure to examine fundamental misconceptions that inform our understanding of and approach to sleep. These misconceptions are rooted in a tendency to define sleep negatively -- that is, in terms of what it's not. Like our conception of health, which is generally understood as the absence of disease, we naively conceive of sleep as the absence of waking. When we are asleep, we are "dead to the world" -- to the waking world. Even scientific and medical definitions of sleep cast it in terms of what it's not. Sleep specialists refer to sleep as "non-REM." It's not dreaming."

"From a wake-centric perspective, we have no alternative but to carry waking cognitive and behavioral ways of being into the night. We routinely smuggle information, entertainment, technology, light, food, substances and lots of worry into our bedrooms and beds. The single most critical factor impairing healthy sleep is not, as is commonly believed, that we are insufficiently sleepy at night. It's what sleep science calls hyperarousal -- that we are excessively wakeful.

"Solid empirical evidence suggests that sleeping pills provide no significant improvement in sleep. They essentially mask poor sleep with amnesia. But because we confuse sleep with unconsciousness, we believe that substances and medications that mask waking can legitimately serve as sleep aids. I believe that this is the fundamental error that continues to perpetuate skyrocketing sleeping pill sales."

Read Dr. Naiman's full article online now, or visit his personal website for more information on his theories about integrative sleep.

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