Bedwetting and Sleep Apnea: Taking a Closer Look at The Connection

Discover the Effect Obstructive Sleep Apnea Can Have On Your Kids

Are you having trouble getting your child to curb their bedwetting tendencies throughout the night? Does your child snore through the night? Believe it or not, these two questions may be related and the solution may help correct both these issues. Even more surprising, your dentist can offer treatment options and solutions to help your kids achieve a comfortable night’s sleep.

These interruptions in their sleep can severely affect their day-to-day lives, as well as signify a bigger problem. In many cases, when both chronic bedwetting and snoring are present in children aged 2 -8, it can be the cause of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). While there are many reasons why your kids may be wetting the bed, many of which they can outgrow with time, at least 2% of kids who wet the bed are suffering from sleep apnea. But, exactly how does your dentist factor into this

Bedwetting and Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea in Children

Sleep apnea is typically present in adults. You may even be familiar with the term. However, did you know that up to 10% of children snore, and 4 to 6% of those kids snore due to sleep-disordered breathing (SDB)? Those numbers may seem small, but sleep is an integral part of childhood and can lead to problems in behavior and mood when frequently interrupted.

Children who experience sleep apnea often have trouble breathing. This means the brain has to work twice as hard while they are sleeping to focus on taking in enough oxygen, so it takes some of that focus away from other important functions such as controlling the bladder.

Additionally, the fatty tissue around the neck can press down on the tonsils or similar glands in the mouth, which can further impede their ability to breathe comfortably.

So how can you be sure that your child is suffering from sleep apnea? In addition to bedwetting, they may also be displaying some of these common symptoms:

  • Frequently breathing through the mouth.
  • Drowsiness or trouble staying awake during the day.
  • Sudden behavioral issues or bad grades.
  • Difficulty paying attention or focusing at home or at school.
  • Pauses while breathing or choking episodes at night.

How Your Dentist Can Treat Sleep Apnea

Generally, persistent symptoms such as enuresis or difficulty breathing may warrant a visit to your general practitioner or local pediatrician. However, when the bedwetting is related to sleep apnea, your dentist may be the better option.

The first step is finding a qualified and knowledgeable dental professional who has experience treating sleep-disordered breathing such as sleep apnea. Ultimately, this will depend on the severity of your child’s OSA. Children that are obese, have certain medical conditions, or have a genetic history of the condition may be at a greater risk of developing SDB.

There are different treatment options your dentist may recommend to help correct your child’s OSA, which is generally caused by enlarged tonsils and adenoids that can obstruct the airway. In cases like these, your dentist may perform a quick and easy examination that can help determine if the cause of your child’s bedwetting is sleep apnea.

If necessary, he may recommend one of the following surgeries be performed to remove or reduce the obstruction and provide relief to your child:

  • A tonsillectomy addresses the tonsils, the two small lymphoid tissue masses in your throat
  • An adenoidectomy addresses the adenoid, the tissue between the back of the nose and the throat

Helping Your Child Cope With Bedwetting

As a parent, it can be difficult to watch your child struggle, especially with something that can be causing strain on their confidence or self-esteem. While you may not be able to help the underlying causes that are affecting your child’s ability to get a good night’s sleep, you can still help them to understand it’s a medical condition that is not their fault!

Finding a compassionate dentist that has experience working with children exhibiting sleep apnea related bedwetting can truly make all the difference in treating your child’s OSA.

Bedwetting and Sleep Apnea: Taking a Closer Look at The Connection was last modified: August 9th, 2018 by Dr. Adrian Acosta
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