Pediatric CPAP: Exploring CPAP for kids

Pediatric CPAP treatment may be needed for children who have severe obstructive sleep apnea that isn’t resolved by a tonsillectomy or other basic preventive measures.

Sleep apnea in children is rare, and tonsil surgery is the most common treatment. Still, some children do experience sleep apnea that’s severe enough to require pediatric CPAP therapy.

CPAP is an abbreviation for “continuous positive airway pressure,” a method of therapy designed to keep a person’s breathing airways open during sleep. CPAP therapy systems consist of a machine that generates air, a tube that delivers that air to a mask, and the mask itself, which is worn during sleep. Get a more detailed overview of CPAP here.

CPAP for kids: Pediatric CPAP masks

In our last blog post, we discussed the causes, signs and symptoms of sleep apnea in children. Moving on from that, let’s assume that your child has been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and has been prescribed CPAP therapy.

Although prescriptions of CPAP for kids are rare, they’re common enough that most CPAP manufacturers offer pediatric CPAP masks made especially for children.

For example, the ResMed Mirage Kidsta™ mask is a pediatric CPAP mask that’s specially designed to treat sleep apnea and/or respiratory insufficiency in children aged seven years and older. It’s designed for a child’s comfort, with a soft cushion that minimizes pressure on small noses.

The mask also sports an open design that delivers a clear field of vision, which is a key factor in helping children accept their CPAP therapy.

CPAP for kids: For best results, use nightly

And that last point – getting children to accept their CPAP therapy – is extremely important. However, any parents who have had trouble getting their kids to brush their teeth might imagine that getting them to wear a pediatric CPAP mask every night can present something of a challenge.

“As in adults, compliance with PAP therapy is a key factor in determining success,” the American Sleep Apnea Association states. “Adolescents pose a particular challenge. For many children, however, the dramatic improvement in the way they feel … becomes an important motivating factor.”

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia offers some great advice for helping kids stick to their CPAP therapy:

  • Get comfortable with CPAP. “While your child is going through desensitization practice during the day, begin turning on the PAP machine at night without attaching it to your child.” This helps kids get comfortable with the noise and the presence of the device in their sleeping area.
  • Add CPAP to your child’s nightly routine. Next, have your child try to fall asleep after you place the mask on his or her face, after the air has been turned on for 15 minutes.
  • Stick with it. If your child can’t fall asleep with the CPAP therapy, try practicing for 15 minutes. Then wait until your child falls asleep before placing the mask on his or her face. Continue this until your child is able to fall asleep with the mask on.
  • Keep the mask on. Like adults, kids can be prone to removing the mask at night, sometimes without even knowing it. Make sure to check in and replace the mask if it falls off or is removed.

This blog post contains general information about medical conditions and potential treatments. It is not medical advice. If you have any medical questions, please consult your doctor.

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