Signs of Sleep Apnea in Toddlers


Sleep apnea can be a tricky condition to diagnose. Many symptoms of the condition overlap with other conditions. Do not be alarmed if your toddler has one or two of these symptoms. Most likely, your toddler will have several or even all of these symptoms if she has sleep apnea.


Many people associate snoring with sleep apnea in all ages. Snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnea in toddlers. Sometimes, the snoring can be really loud, but it can also be a quiet hum. Just because your toddler snores does not mean that he has sleep apnea. Snoring can also be caused by allergies or a cold. If your toddler snores consistently, speak to your doctor.

Daytime Behavior

Certain daytime behaviors can often be a sign of sleep apnea. Toddlers with sleep apnea are usually sleep-deprived. Look for signs of irritability, crankiness and frustration. Every toddler will show these signs at some point, but if these symptoms keep occurring, sleep apnea could be to blame. Another symptom of sleep apnea is falling asleep at inappropriate times. If your toddler is too tired to stay awake during her favorite activities, speak to your pediatrician.

Nighttime Behavior

Restless sleep can be a sign of sleep apnea. If your toddler tosses and turns all night, try to keep track of how often it happens. Talk to your doctor if it is happening consistently and your toddler is showing other symptoms. Other nighttime symptoms include profuse sweating during sleep. Another concern is your toddler waking up choking, coughing, or even gasping for air on a regular basis.

Health Problems

If your toddler has sleep apnea, he will likely have other health problems. She will likely have enlarged tonsils or adenoids. Your toddler may also have growth problems. He may not be growing as quickly as he should. This is due to the fact that he is not getting enough sleep for growth hormones to release. She might also have a hard time growing because she is burning so many calories working to breathe. In severe cases, sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure and heart and lung problems.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The first step in figuring out if your toddler has sleep apnea is a visit to your pediatrician. You may be referred to an ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT) or a pulmonary specialist. Your pediatrician might also order a sleep study. If your toddler is diagnosed, your doctor might suggest removing his tonsils and adenoids. Oxygen may also be given to help make breathing easier.

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