Children and snoring is a common problem that a lot of parents face. If your child snores, you may be worrying about the medical implications. Snoring is well-known as one of the major indicators of sleep apnea, a serious medical condition. In many cases, snoring in children is fairly harmless, but if it persists for weeks or even months at a time, it could be something more serious. It’s estimated that around 5% of children have undetected and untreated sleep apnea.
Children and Snoring
Snoring can signal many different health conditions, from allergies to sleep apnea. Though sleep apnea is more common in adults, children and teens can also suffer from it. Those with sleep apnea experience pauses in breathing throughout the night which reduces oxygen levels and disrupts sleep. A child with sleep apnea could awaken many times throughout the sleep cycle.
Sleep is vital for young bodies and when left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to problems with learning, growth, behavior, communication, self-care and overall health. Certain children have a higher risk of developing sleep apnea, including those who:
- Have a family history of sleep apnea
- Are overweight
- Have a large neck
- Have enlarged tonsils or adenoids
- Have certain medical conditions such as cerebral palsy or Down syndrome
Symptoms of sleep apnea in children include snoring, often with pauses or gasps, sleeping with the mouth open, restless sleep, bedwetting and daytime sleepiness, and behavior problems.
When Snoring is Not Harmless
When a child has sleep apnea, they may stop breathing consistently throughout the course of a normal night’s sleep. This can lead to a host of ongoing issues.
Attention and Focus
Constantly disrupted sleep often leads to attention issues during the day. Children who have not had enough sleep, may have a difficult time concentrating and may also display hyperactive behavior. Once sleep apnea is diagnosed, hyperactive behavior may be reduced.
Learning and Retention
While you sleep, your brain is working hard to analyze what it has learned throughout the day and prepare for another day. If this process is interrupted, learning may not happen the way it is supposed to. Deep sleep is especially important for a child’s cognitive development. If left untreated for a significant period of time, sleep apnea can cause serious learning delays and have a lasting impact on a child’s life.
Sleep apnea is linked to several health concerns. This is the case for both children and adults. Sleep apnea sufferers are more likely to experience high blood pressure, cardiac problems, obesity, and diabetes.
Seeking Treatment for Your Child
Children and snoring should not be ignored. Sleep apnea is a serious concern, however, there are treatment options available for children. A board certified otolaryngologist (ENT doctor) can diagnose sleep apnea and its underlying cause, which varies from child to child. Your child may undergo a sleep study, a harmless procedure that helps doctors to determine if they have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder.
One of the most common reasons for sleep apnea in young children is enlarged tonsils or adenoids. Removal can lead to quick symptom relief in many cases. In older children, obesity is thought to play a larger role in the development of sleep apnea. Whether diagnosed as a child or an adult, it’s important to understand the root cause of sleep apnea, which only a doctor can determine.
The board certified otolaryngologists at eos sleep understand the unique needs of children with sleep apnea. They will work with you to determine the reason why your child snores and develop a personalized treatment plan that will address their specific needs. Start by contacting our office for an appointment. Our doctors will partner with you, each step of the way, to ensure that your child experiences restful sleep.