When you look in on your child at night, their gentle snoring may seem endearing, but it could also be a sign of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea affects 22 million American adults and children and contributes to a variety of health and behavioral problems. At Park Avenue ENT, with locations in Brooklyn and on the Upper East Side of New York City, Jacqueline Jones, MD, a board-certified ear nose and throat (ENT) specialist and head and neck surgeon, provides comprehensive diagnosis and treatment for sleep apnea in children and adults.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that occurs when your soft palate relaxes and descends into your throat blocking your airways. As a result, you snore and jerk awake momentarily to open your airway. Central sleep apnea is another form of the disease that occurs when your brain fails to send the signals necessary to breathe.
Sleep apnea can disrupt your sleep 5-30 times an hour throughout the night, leaving you or your child feeling fatigued during the day. Over time, your lack of quality sleep damages your health. In children, in addition to an increased risk of health problems, the lack of restorative sleep also contributes to behavioral problems or poor academic performance.
Oversized tonsils and adenoids are the most common causes of sleep apnea in children. Adults usually develop sleep apnea because of obesity, a blockage in the nasal cavity, or excessive tissue in soft palate and throat.
While snoring is the most apparent sign of sleep apnea, not everyone who snores has the disease.
Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) is the general term for sleep disturbances caused by disrupted breathing. For example, snoring is a form of SDB that occurs when your breath is turbulent and vibrates your soft palate or from a partial blockage of your airways. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when your entire airway is blocked.
Dr. Jones provides customized treatment to help you breathe steadily throughout the night. For adults, she encourages lifestyle changes such as weight loss, smoking cessation, and improved overall sleep hygiene, including removing cell phones and other electronic devices from your bedroom and following a quiet and relaxing routine to prepare to sleep.
Dr. Jones prescribes mouthpieces that hold your jaw forward when you sleep, which prevents your soft palate from descending and blocking your airway. She can also prescribe breathing machines that send a steady stream of air through your airways while you sleep.
If your child has sleep apnea that is severely disrupting their health, Dr. Jones recommends the surgical removal of their tonsils and adenoids. This surgery resolves sleep apnea in more than 90% of patients.
If you suspect that you or your child have sleep apnea, call Park Avenue ENT or schedule an appointment online today for expert diagnosis and customized treatment.