Sleep-Disordered breathing (SDB) is a term that refers to several different sleep disorders, all of which are characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is one of the most common SDB conditions. These disorders often have serious side effects and should be diagnosed by a physician so proper treatment can be put in place. What are the signs your child should be evaluated for SDB?
Mouth breathing, especially while sleeping, is one of the most common signs of SDB. This sign may also be accompanied by snoring during the night and fatigue during the day. Perhaps your child is easily fatigued or frequently breathes through their mouth. These could be indicative of a sleep disorder that’s making your child tired during the day!
Poor Attention Span and Behavioral Issues
Because SDB disrupts your child’s sleep during the night, he or she may be experiencing an inability to focus during the day. Their fatigue combined with a poor attention span could result in behavioral problems that become evident at home or in the classroom. Your child may also perform poorly in school on account of their lack of focus, fatigue, and behavioral issues. These are all signs that could point to SDB.
Poor Sleep Quality
Does your child have trouble sleeping? Poor sleep quality could mean that your child is actually experiencing SDB in which they stop breathing at several points during the night. Signs of poor sleep quality include headaches upon waking in the morning, snoring, and wetting the bed. Even mild snoring could indicate a problem with SDB if your child is exhibiting other signs.
If your child’s natural posture includes a forward-leaning head, this could actually be less about poor posture and more about a sleep disorder. Combine this with obesity or venous pooling beneath the eyes and you could be seeing signs of SDB. Venous pooling under the eyes may also be referred to as allergy shiners and may be evidenced by dark circles underneath the eyes. All of these signs mean you should ask your doctor for a referral to a sleep specialist.
How Your Dentist Can Help
Dentists are often the first professionals to see signs of a potential sleep disorder in children. Your dentist can refer you to a sleep specialist if he or she suspects your child may be exhibiting symptoms of SDB. After a diagnosis, your dentist can help provide the treatment that the sleep specialist recommends, including oral appliances that can help keep your child’s airway open while sleeping!
Since SDB can lead to a variety of problems including the signs mentioned above in addition to an increased risk for heart disease and premature death, it’s crucial to be aware of the signs of SDB and visit your dentist regularly for checkups. Talk to your dentist if your child has any signs of SDB. He or she can help you see a sleep specialist to get a proper diagnosis and treatment to improve your child’s sleep and quality of life!