Life is not easy. Especially when you are in a family of invisible illnesses and disabilities. It can be serious, funny and downright hard! But we make it. Just like everyone else. We just do it in a different style.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Children and OSA

In between my posts about my family and our lives with chronic illnesses and disability, I will also post about sleep disorders and how they have affected us.

I love to find articles about sleep disorders and will post them here with links to the original article as well as other sources. Please feel free to comment or leave more information. I so want people to understand how much this can affect their lives or the lives of a loved-one.

Here is the first of many posts. Enjoy.


Though OSA has touched two members of my family, one older and one still a child, I think it is VERY important for parents to know what to look for in their children if/when they suspect sleep disorders.

Children can suffer from daytime sleepiness, but more likely, will have hyperactivity and restlessness. This could be misconstrued to be symptoms of ADHD. I do not have numbers, but my son was one of the many who was told he had and "tested positive" for ADHD, when he had sleep apnea. We even tried a trial of medication (only lasted two months) with no improvement. The side effects were many and more disruptive (insomnia, circadian clock rhythm dysfunction, loss of appetite and headaches) than the hyperactivity.

Below an article reprinted from The Herald News which goes into detail on this very subject. Again, a note of caution for parents. If your child suffers from hyperactivity, don't wait for the doctor to bring up whether your child sleeps well or not. If you have any questions regarding your child's sleep, bring them up to the doctor and don't shy away from this. Sleep apnea is nothing to play with when it comes to a child.

Sleep disorders linked to child hyperactivity

March 19, 2008
By Denise M. Baran-Unland
Special to the Herald news

Talk to a parent with a 2-year-old who is bouncing off the walls and she might apologetically tell you, "He's just overtired."

Flash forward to that same child five years later and that same parent might wonder if her child is hyperactive.

The fact is, he might still be overtired.

Between 1 and 3 percent of children ages 2 to 5 years old have obstructive sleep apnea, according to American Sleep Apnea Association. Left untreated, a child might experience failure to thrive, a number of cardiovascular disorders and symptoms commonly related to hyperactivity, including problems with learning, attention and behavior."

I have a number of patients with complaints of learning disorders," said Dr. Mohammed Saeed Homsi, pediatric sleep specialist at Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet. "They think that their children have ADD until I dig deeper into their history."

If they tell me that their child snores, stops breathing or has mouth breathing, I do a sleep study. The parents are usually very surprised that sleep apnea is the cause of their child's hyperactivity and learning disability."

While being overweight may contribute to some cases of sleep apnea in children, as it very often does in adults, by far the most usual cause is enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids, Homsi said.

Yet, because sleep apnea is rarely diagnosed in children, the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that all children be regularly screened for snoring.

Sleep study

If the child has signs of obstructive sleep disorder, the pediatrician may order a sleep study or polysomnography. During the study at a hospital or sleep center, the child wears several recording devices --the same as an adult would -- none of which is painful; still parents are required to spend the night with the child, Homsi said.

The recording devices include an electroencephalogram (EEG), which measures brain waves; an electroculogram (EOG), which monitors the different stages of sleep; and electrocardiogram (EKG), which measure heart rate and rhythm. The child will also wear chest bands that sense breathing, monitors that record leg movements and monitors to sense oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood.

If the sleep study reveals the child has obstructive sleep apnea, enlarged tonsils and adenoids -- if present -- will be removed. If obesity is the culprit, the child may need to lose weight.

In certain cases, the child may have to wear an electronic device when they sleep. This is called continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).While all this may sound scary, the good news is that, with treatment, the symptoms and consequences of sleep apnea are reversible. But if symptoms persist, further exploration is needed.

Obstructive sleep disorder is not the only sleep disorder to plague children and teens, Homsi said.

For instance, the child may suffer from periodic limb movement. Similar to restless legs syndrome, the child periodically moves his legs while he sleeps. This causes him waken from sleep without being conscious of it, Homsi said. Unlike restless leg movement, which is diagnosed from the child's history, periodic limb movement is diagnosed by a sleep study."He will be very sleepy during the day and he will not be productive during school," Homsi said. "Sometimes iron deficiency causes it and sometimes we need to give medicine to control the leg movements. It depends on the result of the sleep study."

(Sorry, I do not have the exact citation link for this page. I will search and try to put these in as I go along.