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There are many ways you can help children and their families get the care they need.
When obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) prevents your child from sleeping and breathing normally at night, it can be understandably alarming for parents.
At Children’s Hospital Boston, we know how important it is for families to be fully informed about your child’s condition and treatment, and how OSA could affect her long-term health. We’ve provided answers to many commonly asked questions about OSA in the following pages, and when you meet with our team of doctors, we’ll be able to explain your child’s condition and treatment options fully.
What is OSA?
OSA is a type of sleep apnea. “Sleep apnea” is a common disorder in which one or more pauses in breathing occur during sleep. “Obstructive” means that these pauses happen because the upper airway is blocked.
Although a child with OSA tries to breathe during these episodes of blockage, she doesn’t get enough air. Thus, sleep is disrupted and a decrease in the oxygen content of the blood may occur.
What are the different types of sleep apnea?
A rare type of sleep apnea is called central sleep apnea:
How does OSA occur?
Is OSA harmful?
It can be. OSA means that your child isn’t sleeping and breathing well at night, so during the day, she may be unusually tired, irritable or hyperactive.
If left untreated, OSA can also have more long-term consequences, including:
OSA is caused by the obstruction of the upper airway in the back of your child’s throat.
The most common types of blockage involve:
OSA can also be caused by a variety of disorders that affect the structure of the jaw and face or the function of muscles, such as:
What are the symptoms of OSA?
A child with OSA may:
If you suspect your child might have OSA, talk to her primary care doctor about her symptoms. Your doctor may refer you to Children’s for a full evaluation, which often includes a sleep study.
You and your family are key players in your child’s medical care. It’s important that you share your observations and ideas with your child’s physician, and that you have all the information you need to fully understand the treatment team’s explanations and recommendations.
If you’ve set up an appointment, you probably already have some ideas and questions on your mind. But at the appointment, it can be easy to forget the questions you wanted to ask. It’s often helpful to jot them down ahead of time so that you can leave the appointment feeling like you have the information you need.
If your child is old enough, you may want to suggest that she write down what she wants to ask her doctor, too.
Some of the questions you may want to ask include:
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”