Sleep Apnea :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

Obstructive Sleep Apnea and CPAP

Obstructive Sleep Apnea or OSA is a medical problem in which a person’s air flow is blocked only during sleep. These pauses are caused by an interruption of air intake, and can happen as often as 300 times a night, disrupting a person’s quantity and quality of sleep. OSA is commonly found in children with enlarged tonsils and adenoids, as well as children who are overweight or who have certain facial structures.

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Obstructive Sleep Apnea is best determined by a doctor after a sleep study is performed. While the most common symptom is snoring; others include pauses in breathing, gasping for air, headaches, dry mouth, trouble concentrating, forgetfulness, or depression. Children with OSA often awake sleepy in the morning and may have attention problems during the day that could lead to difficulties at school. A parent should have their child evaluated if symptoms of OSA are seen.



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The most common treatment for pediatric OSA is a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. If surgical intervention is not an option, the most common non-surgical treatment is CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). CPAP is a treatment that delivers a continuous and measured flow of air into the nose using a small machine, tubing, nose mask and headgear. The air pressure keeps the airway path open, reducing snoring and preventing OSA. After the initial diagnosis of OSA is made, the patient will visit the CPAP clinic for introduction to therapy.



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This clinic provides one-on-one education and training for patients who will be using
CPAP equipment, as well as:

  • Introduction to CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure)

  • Mask selection and desensitization

  • CPAP trial and problem solving


After the diagnosis of OSA is made, you will be scheduled into a clinic for an introduction to CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) therapy. Unlike the first sleep study, CPAP clinic is a daytime appointment and you will not be spending the night. This appointment gives you the opportunity to try CPAP therapy before your scheduled overnight CPAP study. During CPAP clinic you will be shown a variety of different nasal mask styles. You can choose the style that is most comfortable for you, which may be used during your overnight CPAP study.



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When you arrive, a sleep lab technician will meet with you to explain the CPAP sleep study. (This study is similar to the first sleep study, with the addition of the CPAP mask.) You will go to sleep with the CPAP mask on and the sleep technician will adjust the air pressure as needed to keep your airway path open.

After the CPAP study is completed, a physician will review the data to determine the appropriate prescription. A homecare company will be contacted for your equipment. (If there is a specific homecare company you would like to use, please inform the sleep lab technician at the CPAP clinic appointment.) A representative from the homecare company will set-up an in-home patient consultation session to demonstrate how the equipment is used and to ensure the proper prescriptive settings.



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Dryness of nose:

Adding a CPAP humidifier can prevent dryness

Nasal congestion:

A heated CPAP humidifier can relieve most congestion

Skin irritation from mask:

Usually this is due to a improper mask adjustment. A CPAP clinic specialist can work with your child to resolve this problem.

Eyes irritation:

Usually means mask needs adjustment

Claustrophobia:

Education about CPAP and proper mask fitting can help to relieve this problem



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Once the patient begins CPAP treatment, a CPAP clinic representative will follow-up after the first week and then again at 1, 3, 6 and 11 months. These calls help ensure the patient is successfully using the treatment and to answer any patient/family’s questions or concerns. Follow-up appointments can be made at any time to assist with therapy. In addition, a Pediatric Psychologist is available by appointment to assist with desensitization and issues relating to non-compliance (non-use).

Patients should be prepared to come in on an annual basis to perform a repeat CPAP sleep study to ensure the treatment is still working appropriately and to make any necessary adjustments.



Sleep Medicine

Obstructive Sleep Apnea patients are managed through our Sleep Medicine Center. Visit our center to learn more about our program, medical team and clinics.

Visit Our Sleep Medicine Program »

Nationwide Children's Hospital
700 Children's Drive Columbus, Ohio 43205 614.722.2000