SSM Health: Sleep Apnea becoming more common in kids and teens

MADISON, Wis. — It’s something that used to be mostly seen among adults, but has slowly been increasing among kids and teens. What exactly is it? A period of time during sleep where breathing becomes irregular, or pauses all together.

It’s called sleep apnea, and SSM Health pediatrician Dan Beardmore says it could be attributed to carrying extra weight at younger ages.

“You can imagine if there’s a lot of weight on the neck, then it’s challenging to keep the airways open, ” said Beardmore. “Of course we are seeing more and more teens and adolescents with overweight issues, so we are starting to see that classic adult sleep apnea at younger and younger ages.”

While snoring is often associated with sleep apnea, Beardmore says it’s not just snoring to look for, but snoring that stops suddenly, and is sometimes following by choking sounds before a big breath is released. When it comes to treating sleep apnea, Beardmore says weight control helps, but weight is not always the issue. In those cases, CPAP machines are useful for teens, but treatment becomes a bit more challenging for younger kids. For parents concerned about their child’s breathing, Beardmore says to reach out to their primary care provider.

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