Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder in which blocked or narrowed breathing passages cause people to snore and stop breathing briefly while asleep. Two percent of kids have apnea, usually because their tonsils or adenoids are enlarged. Untreated, the condition can lead to developmental and behavioral problems, including an increase in night terrors in a child who's predisposed to them. If your child has night terrors and any of the symptoms below, have him evaluated for obstructive sleep apnea. Treatment (usually the removal of adenoids and/or tonsils) can be very effective.
- Snoring -- it's the most common sign.
- Pauses in breathing during sleep.
- Breathing through the mouth, both while asleep and awake.
- Contorted sleep positions, as your child unconsciously maneuvers himself to try to breathe more easily.
- Noisy breathing, coughing, and choking while asleep.
- Short-term wakefulness in sleep due to interrupted breathing.
- Unusual grumpiness in the morning.
- Persistent bed-wetting in a child who snores loudly and frequently while asleep.