Symptoms of Sleep Apnea in Children in McKinney, TX

Does Your Child Have Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts throughout sleep. While a major risk factor for apnea is an increase in age, anyone can have sleep apnea, even infants. 

At SleepRight McKinney, Dr. Paul Lawrence, one of the top sleep dentists in McKinney, TX, offers diagnosis and treatment for pediatric sleep apnea to help your child sleep more easily. Learn more by calling our office today at (972) 542-9129.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where breathing repeatedly stops and starts throughout the night. This can happen briefly (a few seconds) dozens of times per night. Sleep apnea often disrupts their sleep patterns and can significantly impact their health and well-being.

There are two main types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): This is the most common type in children. OSA occurs when the upper airway becomes blocked during sleep, usually due to enlarged tonsils, adenoids, or certain facial structures.
  • Central Sleep Apnea: This is less common and happens when the brain fails to signal to the muscles that control breathing.

Causes of Sleep Apnea in Children

Several factors can contribute to pediatric sleep apnea. Here's a breakdown of some common causes of sleep disorders in children:

  • Enlarged Tonsils and Adenoids: These lymphatic tissues in the back of the throat can become enlarged and block the airway during sleep.
  • Obesity: Excess weight can contribute to narrowed airways and worsen sleep apnea symptoms.
  • Facial Abnormalities: Certain facial structures, like a small jaw or recessed chin, can increase the risk of airway blockage.
  • Neuromuscular Diseases: Conditions that affect the muscles responsible for breathing can lead to sleep apnea.
  • Allergies and Chronic Congestion: Allergies or enlarged adenoids can cause nasal congestion, making it harder to breathe through the nose at night.

Signs of Sleep Apnea

In addition to pauses in breathing and gasping for air, your child may experience a variety of symptoms at different ages, including:


  • Disrupted sleep with crying
  • Noisy breathing/snoring
  • Night sweats
  • Poor feeding
  • Developmental delays

Toddlers & Preschoolers:

  • Restless sleep
  • Mouth breathing
  • Night terrors/bedwetting
  • Daytime fatigue/hyperactivity
  • Poor growth

School-Aged Children:

  • Loud snoring
  • Restless sleep
  • Sleepwalking/talking
  • Difficulty waking/morning headaches
  • Excessive daytime fatigue
  • Behavioral/learning problems

Sleep Apnea and Child Development

Sleep is essential for a child's physical and mental development. When sleep apnea disrupts sleep patterns, it can significantly impact a child's growth and well-being. Here's how:

  • Cognitive development: Lack of quality sleep can affect a child's ability to learn, concentrate, and remember information.
  • Behavioral problems: Sleep apnea can contribute to hyperactivity, inattention, and behavioral issues.
  • Growth: In severe cases, sleep apnea can impact a child's growth hormone production, leading to stunted growth.
  • Mood: Sleep deprivation can lead to irritability, mood swings, and depression in children.

Early diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea can help prevent these complications and ensure your child reaches their full potential.

Diagnosing Childhood Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can be diagnosed with an at-home sleep study or in a lab under the supervision of a physician. Dr. Lawrence can help you determine which study your child would benefit from the most. Once you have a clear diagnosis, we can begin treatment right away.

Treating Childhood Sleep Apnea

The treatment for childhood sleep apnea depends on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause. Here are some common sleep apnea treatment options :

  • Lifestyle Changes: Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, managing weight, and treating allergies can all improve symptoms.
  • Surgery: If enlarged tonsils or adenoids are the main culprit, surgical removal can be very effective.
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP): This machine uses a mask worn during sleep to gently deliver pressurized air to keep the airway open.
  • Oral Appliance Therapy: For some children, a custom-made mouthpiece can be worn at night to help keep the airway open.

It's important to work with our McKinney, TX, sleep dentist to determine the best course of treatment for your child. Early intervention and proper management can significantly improve your child's sleep quality and overall health.

Frequently Asked Questions

At what age does sleep apnea begin to appear in children?

Sleep apnea can affect children of all ages, even infants. However, it's most commonly diagnosed between the ages of two and six, coinciding with the peak growth period for tonsils and adenoids.

What can I do to help my child sleep better at night if they have sleep apnea?

Here are some tips to help your child with sleep apnea sleep better at night while acknowledging these should not replace professional medical advice:

  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This helps regulate your child's natural sleep-wake cycle.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine: Take a warm bath, read a calming book, or listen to soothing music before bed.
  • Elevate the head of the bed: This can help keep airways open during sleep. You can use pillows or a wedge specifically designed for this purpose.
  • Encourage nasal breathing: Use saline nasal drops or a humidifier to loosen congestion and promote easier breathing through the nose.
  • Manage weight: If your child is overweight, even slight weight loss can improve symptoms of sleep apnea.

How common is sleep apnea in children?

According to the Sleep Foundation, about five percent of children have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. However, researchers suspect sleep apnea is underdiagnosed in children, as many may receive a misdiagnosis of ADHD due to their similar symptoms.

Can a child outgrow sleep apnea?

Unfortunately, sleep apnea is a chronic condition, meaning it won’t go away on its own. Because anatomy usually remains the same after adolescence, children with narrow facial or jaw structures may continue to experience sleep apnea symptoms as they grow older. It’s best to schedule a sleep study if you suspect your child has sleep apnea to help prevent the development of serious oral and overall health complications.

Help Your Child Sleep Soundly and Safely with Our McKinney, TX, Sleep Dentist

When your child experiences the benefits of a quality night’s sleep, you can too. Contact our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Lawrence by calling (972) 542-9129, and we’ll help you on your journey to a healthy night’s rest for years to come. We also welcome patients from Fairview, Princeton, and Frisco, TX.