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Sleep Apnea Treatments

University Hospitals Pediatric Sleep Doctors Provide Successful Sleep Apnea Treatments for Children

The team of specialists at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Pediatric Sleep Center are well known for their expertise in pediatric sleep medicine. As the number of childhood sleep disorders increases, our experts set the standard for more child-friendly sleep studies through our advanced diagnostic laboratory services at University Hospitals.

Experts at the Pediatric Sleep Center offer child-focused sleep apnea treatments to improve children’s air flow and make breathing easier at night. After the doctor has reviewed the results of the child’s sleep study, several recommendations are made in partnership with the child’s pediatrician to end sleep apnea.

Increasing Size of Upper Airway

To end sleep apnea, doctors often remove the child’s tonsils and adenoids to make more room in the upper airway. It is estimated that this surgery stops sleep apnea in 60 to 70 percent of children. However, some children have other conditions that prevent the surgery from relieving sleep apnea, including:

  • Children with very severe sleep apnea
  • Obese children
  • Children with conditions that affect the airway or muscle tone such as Down syndrome

Easier Breathing for Children

Positive airway pressure (PAP) treatment gently opens the child’s airway for better breathing. PAP, the first line of treatment for children who have already had their tonsils and adenoids removed, is delivered through a sleep mask. The mask fits securely over the child’s nose or nose and mouth during sleep. The flow of air gently blows the airway open during sleep to prevent airway collapse.

PAP therapy is very effective and should generally be used all night during sleep. The longer the usage, the better the benefits, including:

  • Improved air and oxygen flow to the lungs
  • Easier breathing for the child
  • Less frequent wake-ups from gasping
  • More energy in the morning, waking up refreshed, ready to play and learn
  • Better quality of sleep and life for the child and parents

Types of PAP Machines

Depending on the severity of the child’s sleep apnea, the doctor will help decide what treatment approach is best and prescribe one of the following PAP machines to use during sleep:

  • Continuous positive airway pressure machines (CPAP) deliver a constant flow of air while the child is breathing in and out. CPAP is the most common way to use PAP sleep apnea treatment. Some children need variable pressure settings such as bi-level pressure or variable pressures.
  • Bi-level pressure machines (BIPAP) deliver two different levels of airflow. A higher flow of air is delivered during inspiration and a lower flow of air is delivered during exhalation. BIPAP provides breathing support to a child who does not breathe well during sleep such as children with neuromuscular disease, including scoliosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, or related problems.
  • Autotitration machines deliver variable pressures that adjust to changing needs either within a single night or night-to-night.

If the child has problems wearing the PAP mask, our sleep specialists will change or adapt the equipment to find the mask and pressure settings that are most comfortable. Also, sleep specialists at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital Pediatric Sleep Center work closely with equipment providers to get the right size PAP mask and correct settings for each child. Our center has highly trained child behavioral specialists who will work with the child to use the PAP treatment regularly.

Almost always, PAP therapy will immediately and effectively treat a child’s sleep apnea. Sometimes, our sleep doctors order orthodontic or craniofacial treatments that open a narrow mouth or move the jaw forward as part of a long-term sleep apnea treatment plan.

Losing Weight to Benefit Sleep Apnea

Doctors at the Pediatric Sleep Center are highly knowledgeable about the very latest treatments for sleep apnea. Sometimes losing as little as 10 pounds makes a difference with sleep apnea.

Prompt Treatment for Sleep Apnea

Childhood sleep apnea and other pediatric sleep disorders can be serious and should be treated promptly. With careful diagnosis and multidisciplinary care, any child can get the treatment he or she needs quickly at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital Pediatric Sleep Center.