JAMA Cardiology recently published a study on childhood sleep apnea. The research shows teens have an increased chance of high blood pressure if they had the condition as kids.

According to the study author, Julio Fernandez-Mendoza, the disorder can act as a “gateway” to problems of this nature in the future.

little boy snoring, laying on his side in bedThe report states teenagers with sleep apnea were close to three times likelier to get high blood pressure, than those without the condition. Some good news from the study shows that those teens whose disorder improved did not have increased chances of high blood pressure. Participants with sleep apnea that started as teens had a higher likelihood of developing high blood pressure, too. These teens had enhanced risks around a specific type of high blood pressure.

This is a strong risk factor for adulthood heart disease.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a concerning disorder that causes a person to stop breathing while asleep. There are two different types of this condition:

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

This is the most common form of the disorder. It happens when there are obstructions in the airway. Overall, this is is because of a person’s throat muscles relaxing.

Central Sleep Apnea

This is less common. However, this occurs when an individual’s brain does not send the right messages to breathing muscles.

While rare, there’s also something known as “complex” sleep apnea syndrome. This is when a person has both types of sleep apnea, central and obstructive.

Sleep apnea generally occurs in adults. With that said, approximately 10% of school-aged kids can also have it. Close to 50% of children with the condition outgrow it by the time their teen years hit. For the other half, it continues to be a chronic issue throughout their lives.

It Can Go Undiagnosed

More information on the study reveals another issue. The study author notes that sleep apnea can often go undiagnosed in both children and adults. Therefore, this problem requires added attention. Fernandez-Mendoza further advocates for more screening and monitoring around sleep apnea risk factors. This would focus on the prevention of future cardio disease problems.

Symptoms To Look Out For

Firstly, patients need a sleep test for diagnosis. The “test” has individuals sleep overnight for monitoring. The test reveals whether breathing stops at night. Additionally, they review oxygen levels, heart rate, and more. After the fact, a physician reviews results and provides a diagnosis. Treatment options are also presented. A sleep dentist in Columbus can answer any questions and provide more information.

If you think you may have sleep apnea, consider the “signs” of the condition. Common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Gasping for air, coughing, or choking during sleep
  • Sleepy during the daytime
  • Night sweats
  • Frequent nighttime urination
  • Memory issues
  • Morning headaches or migraines
  • Low mood
  • Restless sleep
  • Lack of motivation
  • Grinding or clenching teeth

Treatments

The good news is, this condition is treatable. With treatments, anyone’s risk of complications with sleep apnea decreases.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

CPAP is a pump system. It “forces” air into a patient via a mask or nosepiece at night. It’s very effective, but can be inconvenient, uncomfortable, and difficult to wear while sleeping.

Oral Appliance Therapy

An oral appliance comes in the form of a mouthguard. This helps to keep a person’s airway open as they sleep. It’s a great alternative to a CPAP.

Myofunctional Therapy

This teaches patients healthy action and positioning within their day-to-day routines. It strengthens airway muscles. It also reshapes them to breathe easier throughout the day.

Surgery

This is often a “last resort” treatment. Sadly, the risks are high. Plus, even when it works the results often provide temporary relief.

More Research Is Needed

Sure, this study highlights the importance of pediatric sleep apnea and treatment. However, more research is needed. In fact, Marishka Brown, NHLBI’s National Center on Sleep Disorders Research, states more studies need to focus on effects. This includes factors like sleepiness, thinking, and hyperactivity.

The research analyzed over 420 kids, aged five to 12. They found approximately 12% had obstructive sleep apnea. When eight years passed, they did another review. The focus this time was if they still had their sleep disorder. High blood pressure was part of the assessment.

Get Sleep Apnea Treatment in Columbus, OH

Do you have any of the signs, noted above? It’s key not to fluff off the symptoms. Sleep apnea affects the quality of life and your overall health. 

Dr. Firouzian at Firouzian Sleep Wellness can help. He’ll provide a sleep apnea diagnosis. He and his team can also find the best treatment option possible. Contact us to learn more about sleep apnea treatment in Columbus, today by calling (614) 683-4640.