Sleep apnea typically affects older people, but it can also be a problem in children — most often those 2-6 years old. At the Houston and Sugar Land, Texas, offices of Houston Specialty Clinic, board-certified pediatric pulmonologist Sarat Susarla, MD, provides expert treatment for children who have sleep apnea using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment. Call the Houston Specialty Clinic closest to you today for more information about CPAP management.
CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure, which is a way of treating a condition called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
OSA affects the way your child breathes when they’re asleep. If your child has OSA, it means they stop breathing for very brief but sometimes numerous periods when they’re sleeping. This happens because of a blockage in their airway, which in children is usually enlarged tonsils and adenoids.
When your child’s brain detects a change in the body’s levels of carbon dioxide or oxygen, it causes a brief stirring from sleep so that breathing starts again. These episodes happen many times during the night, but your child probably won’t remember because they’re not fully awakened by the episodes.
These constant disruptions in their sleep can have consequences such as excessive daytime sleepiness and irritability and have an effect on how well your child does at school. CPAP is an effective treatment that keeps your child breathing through the night.
CPAP works by blowing air into your child’s nose and airway. The pressure of the airflow is enough to keep the airway open and prevent the pauses in breathing that lead to constant awakenings.
Your child needs to wear a mask that goes over their nose at night. The mask connects to a portable device that creates the airflow. The air pressure is quite gentle, and CPAP is a safe treatment for children who have OSA.
CPAP management is essential to ensuring that your child gets the maximum benefit from their treatment. When you first collect the CPAP device, Dr. Susarla makes sure the mask fits your child correctly and sets the pressure at the right level. There are different designs of mask, some of which cover just the nose, others both the nose and mouth. The mask has straps and a small cap to hold it in place.
Understandably, your child might feel reluctant to wear the CPAP mask, but unless they use it every night, their sleep apnea will return. Therefore, it’s vital to make sure the mask fits correctly, is as comfortable as possible, and that your child keeps it on.
Some children have problems with their CPAP treatment, such as having a stuffy or dry nose, sore eyes, or skin irritation. Sore eyes and skin are usually due to air leaking out of the sides of the mask, so adjusting the fitting or changing to a different size mask should stop this problem. Nasal sprays can treat dry or stuffy nasal passages.
If these measures don’t help, or you’re having problems with the CPAP device, consult Dr. Susarla. You should also take your child to visit Dr. Susarla regularly so he can check the condition and fitting of the mask.
For more help with CPAP management, call Houston Specialty Clinic today.