Does Your Child Snore?
Most children snore occasionally, but if your usually quietly-sleeping child begins to snore loudly and regularly this could indicate an abnormality. Unusual snoring could be a sign of your kid’s health problem – a stuffy nose, an allergy, a respiratory infection, or sleep apnea.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Approximately one to four percent of children are afflicted with breathing problems while asleep. It’s normal for a child’s throat muscles to relax during sleep, but if they become so relaxed that the airway is constricted, sufficient air cannot pass through. This causes an interruption in breathing that can last as long as a minute. The brain then signals the body to make an effort to start breathing again. This can happen many times during the night causing the body to be deprived of sufficient oxygen. It’s then impossible for the child to get enough quality sleep.
What Causes it?
Risk factors include being overweight, allergies, asthma, abnormalities in the physical structure of the jaw or face, and GERD (gastroenterological reflux disorder). In young children, obstructive sleep apnea is most often related to the tonsils. Their tonsils are large in comparison to the throat, and swollen tonsils can block the airway. National Center for Health Statistics data show that annually more than 263,000 US children undergo tonsillectomies and sleep apnea is a major reason.
What Happens if it’s Left Untreated?
Following a night of poor sleep, children are likely to be tired, have difficulty paying attention, and exhibit behavioral problems. In a study by the American College of Chest Physicians, children who snored loudly were fifty percent more likely to have learning problems. Untreated sleep apnea may also lead to delayed growth and cardiovascular problems.
What to Do About It
If your child is exhibiting signs of sleep apnea, consult your pediatrician who will probably suggest a sleep study. Sleep experts have specialized training, can make a diagnosis and recommend a course of treatment. For more information on sleep apnea or any other health concern you have about your child, please don’t hesitate to contact us.