Trouble at School? Check Children For Sleep Apnea

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Children who display behavioral problems and poor performance in school may in fact have a sleep disorder. Recent studies have shown that one in ten children who snore have obstructive sleep apnea, a serious condition that can cause a variety of health issues. Los Angeles Sleep Specialist Dr. Dan Naim advises parents how to detect and treat sleep apnea before medical complications can develop.

A sleep study is the only definitive way to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea in both children and adults

Behavior problems in children can be the result of chronic sleep problems, such as sleep-disordered breathing or obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep deprived children display different symptoms than adults, such as hyperactivity, moodiness, and poor performance in school. Monitoring a child’s sleep for frequent snoring, gasping for breath, night sweats, tossing and turning, and night sweats can indicate a problem which should be addressed by a pediatrician or sleep specialist. Board-Certified Sleep Medicine Specialist Dr. Dan Naim gives tips and advice for parents to detect sleep-disordered breathing in children.

Although not all children who snore have sleep-disordered breathing, it is a common indicator of a serious sleep disorder. Snoring in children may be common, but about one in ten children who snores regularly has obstructive sleep apnea, according to The American Academy of Otolaryngology. Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by pauses in breathing when the airway becomes blocked which can last for up to a minute at a time, multiple times a night. During the pauses in breathing, or “apneas,” the body reacts as though the child is choking and responds by slowing the heart rate and raising blood pressure, and the brain sends a signal to awaken in order to resume breathing. Left untreated, this problem can result in a number of consequences affecting social interaction, learning, growth, and weight gain.

Los Angeles Sleep Study Institute’s Sleep Specialist Dr. Dan Naim said children should be seen by a sleep specialist and get a sleep study, if parents suspect a sleep-disordered breathing problem. "A sleep study is the only definitive way to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea in both children and adults," Dr. Naim said.

“Common symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing include loud snoring which is likely due to enlarged tonsils and adenoids,” said Dr. Naim. “The first line of treatment for sleep-disordered breathing in children is surgical removal of the tonsils and adenoids, which is performed successfully on half a million American children every year. The American Sleep Apnea Association reports that adenotonsillectomy results in complete elimination of OSA symptoms 70 to 90 percent of the time.”

Normal weight children who do not respond to surgical removal of the tonsils may be prescribed a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask, which has been proven to be well-tolerated and effective in both children and adults. Oral appliances may also be indicated for a child who has anatomical abnormalities, such as a large tongue which can block the airway or a small jaw. Overweight or obese children tend to have improvements in sleep apnea symptoms by losing weight.


About Dr. Dan Naim
Dr. Dan I. Naim is Board-Certified in the fields of Internal Medicine, Sleep Medicine, and Pulmonary Medicine. He completed medical school at the Drexel University College of Medicine and went on to fellowship-training in Internal Medicine at the UCLA-VA Internal Medicine Residency program. Dr. Naim completed a pulmonary and critical care fellowship with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Dr. Naim states that his interest in sleep medicine grew as he learned how the role of disturbed sleep could not only impair the quality of someone’s life, but also lead to extensive health problems. His time working in critical care has also shown him how a sleep disorder can lead to hospitalizations in the Intensive Care Unit if the disorder is left untreated. He believes deeply in patient care and education and fostering a partnership with his patients in order for them to achieve the best medical care possible.

About Los Angeles Sleep Study Institute
Los Angeles Sleep Study Institute has a team of highly trained specialists who use the most advanced medical technologies available to effectively diagnose sleep disorders. The team of dedicated professionals treats snoring, sleep apnea, insomnia and other sleep-related problems in a comfortable, professional and friendly environment. To learn more, call (818) 343-1569 or visit

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