What is Sleep-Disordered Breathing?
While there are several conditions on the sleep-disordered breathing scale, having one doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll worsen. Still, it could.
Snoring is a symptom and condition along the scale that is readily overlooked because it’s so common in today’s society. “He snores just like his Daddy!”. It might seem cute, but it’s not because it indicates that your child is struggling to breathe. Snoring, in anyone of any age, is the sound of air rushing past sagging soft tissues in the airway. If these tissues were not in the way, they wouldn’t vibrate and cause the snoring sound.
Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS)
This syndrome lies between snoring and sleep apnea. Sagging soft tissues cause it, but it’s more severe than snoring but not as severe as sleep apnea. Be aware: if your child snores, it could merely be a symptom of something more significant like UARS.
This is when the airway is partially obstructed during sleep. It’s more severe than snoring and UARS but not severe enough to be sleep apnea.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
This is the most severe type of obstructive sleep-disordered breathing. It’s when your child stops breathing throughout the night—sometimes hundreds of times! These pauses can last 10 seconds or much longer, depending on the severity of OSA. The soft tissues in your child’s airway sags and completely cut them off from oxygen until their brain awakens them to resume breathing. The result isn’t only oxygen deprivation but an interrupted sleep cycle which causes cognitive impairment, behavioral problems, and other issues.
Central Sleep Apnea
Central sleep apnea is an outlier in pediatric sleep-disordered breathing because it’s not caused by airway obstruction. Instead, it occurs when your child’s brain doesn’t tell their lungs to breathe. This is most common in premature babies and much less common than obstructive sleep-disordered breathing.