Fundamentals of Sleep Apnea in Paediatric Patients in Singapore

Snoring in children can indicate that they are suffering from sleep apnea. Paediatric obstructive sleep apnea (or OSA) is a sleep disorder where breathing is periodically restricted, either partially or totally. While adults are more likely to be sleepy during the day, children are more prone to have behavioural issues.

Obesity is frequently the underlying cause in adults. On the other hand, the most prevalent cause of sleep apnea in paediatric patients in Singapore are adenoids and tonsils growth. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical for avoiding issues that might impact children’s growth, cognitive development, and behaviour.

Symptoms in Children

Usually, you will not see snoring in infants and children with obstructive sleep apnea. The most prominent sign of OSA in them is insomnia. However, the following signs and symptoms of paediatric sleep apnea can also present themselves:

  • Snoring in your children
  • Breath Pauses
  • Sleepless nights
  • Coughing, sneezing, or choking
  • Mouth respiration
  • Sweating at night
  • Wetting their beds
  • Night terrors

Symptoms do not only appear at night while they are sleeping. The following are some signs you should be looking for in your child during the daytime.

  • Poor performance at school
  • Difficulty in focusing
  • Learning issues
  • Problem with their behaviour
  • Does not gain weight properly
  • Constant hyperactivity

Immediately consult with a doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms in your child. Detecting sleep apnea and receiving snoring and sleep treatment at a Singapore clinic can help your child live a more normal childhood.

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea in Children

Your family doctor may likely refer you to a sleep specialist aside from prescribing a sleep study.

A polysomnogram (sleep study) can help doctors detect sleep apnea and other sleep problems in their patients. It will enable doctors to provide the proper course of sleep or snoring treatment to patients in Singapore and worldwide. Although sleep tests are painless and risk-free, most children must spend the night in a hospital or sleep facility.

Doctors do the following checks during a sleep study:

  • Eye motions while asleep
  • Heartbeats per minute
  • Changes in breathing patterns
  • Brain activity
  • Changes in blood oxygen levels
  • CO2 concentrations
  • Sleep sounds (snoring, choking, etc.)
  • Changes in sleep positions and body motions

Your brain activity is intense during REM sleep, but only your eyes and breathing muscles are engaged. It is the time when you may dream. Moreover, slower brain activity is associated with non-REM sleep.

A person without a sleep problem will alternate between non-REM and REM sleep throughout the night, resulting in many sleep cycles. Observing the sleep cycles of your child, as well as the responses of their body to variations in these cycles, might help spot sleep apnea in paediatric patients in Singapore.

Children at Greater Risks

Like most illnesses, specific groups of children are at a greater risk of developing sleep apnea. As stated earlier, sleep apnea in children in Singapore and worldwide is not only from obesity. There are also a few genetic conditions that can contribute to a child developing sleep apnea. They are:

  • Down syndrome
  • Skull or facial abnormalities
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Sickle cell anaemia
  • Neuromuscular problems
  • Low birth weight
  • A family history of OSA

However, it does not mean that your child will have OSA if they have the above-mentioned genetic conditions. These conditions do not guarantee the presence of sleep apnea in paediatric patients in Singapore or overseas. It just increases their risk of developing the said condition. Talk with your doctor about the likelihood of sleep apnea in your child.

Treatment of OSA in Children

There are a few treatment options for paediatric sleep apnea in Singapore and overseas. It all depends on whether the condition is mild or severe.

Doctors may wait a few weeks to observe if symptoms improve before deciding on therapy when obstructive sleep apnea is mild. Some children with mild OSA may benefit from nasal sprays or other medications.

On the other hand, paediatric sleep apnea in a patient in Singapore can also be due to enlarged tonsils. Your doctor will refer you to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist. They may suggest the following treatment options:

#1 Tonsillectomy

Tonsillectomy is the surgical removal of the tonsils. These are lumps of tissues on both sides of the back of the throat. Tonsils assist the immune system in fighting infections. It is one of the most frequent procedures for children and teenagers. However, because big tonsils may decrease over time, they are performed less frequently.

#2 Adenoidectomy

Adenoids are tissue patches located at the rear of the nasal canal. Adenoids, like tonsils, protect the body by trapping hazardous germs and viruses. Adenoidectomy is the process of surgically removing the adenoids. It is one of the most common surgical operations performed on youngsters alongside tonsillectomy.

#3 Adenotonsillectomy

It is the surgical removal of the tonsils and adenoids. Your doctor will evaluate several criteria when deciding whether or not surgery is necessary. Two of the most prominent factors are frequent severe tonsillitis and snoring in children.

These three procedures often effectively address and treat sleep apnea in paediatric patients in Singapore and overseas. Discuss with your doctor which is the best course of treatment for your child.


#4 CPAP Therapy

If there are other causes, your doctor might recommend using continuous positive airway pressure or a CPAP machine. Professionals mostly recommended if any of the three fail to address sleep apnea in paediatric patients in Singapore. CPAP therapy can also be a treatment option if it is still too early for a child to receive surgical treatment.

CPAP therapy addresses unobstructed breathing, high sleep quality, increased daytime function, and rest from breathing work. CPAP can be used temporarily between facial procedures In case of a craniofacial deformity or other anatomical tendencies for blockage while the kid grows. Using CPAP treatment should reduce the associated cardiovascular risk when initiated early in the course of OSA.

Working with a doctor on food modifications, exercise, and other safe weight loss methods is critical when obesity causes obstructive sleep apnea. These individuals frequently require CPAP therapy to help them breathe while sleeping.

Consult with a Trusted Specialist

Do you notice disturbed sleep patterns and snoring in your children? Schedule an appointment with a doctor for possible snoring treatment in Singapore. Dr Jenica Yong is an ENT physician who specialises in treating children. If you or your kid are experiencing any ENT symptoms, schedule an appointment with her.

The clinic also provides ear wax removal to patients in Singapore. You may contact her clinic if you have any queries or want further information.