It is becoming more common to hear about people suffering from a condition called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), and more often it is adults who are diagnosed since as we age the muscle tone in our necks becomes more relaxed and causes the airways to collapse during sleep.
However, children too, can be diagnosed with sleep apnea, and the good news is that of the 10-30% of children who reportedly snore, only 2-4% of them will actually be diagnosed with OSA. Plus greater chances of early detection by their care providers can be an advantage to maintaining healthy development. Although, it is quite common for children to have sleep problems such as; waking up at different times, sleepwalking, and nightmares, there are quite a few telltale signs of abnormal sleep issues that you should be watching out for.
Things to be aware of when it come to children’s sleep apnea is that mild snoring for the most part is harmless, but when it is also associated with laboured breathing, a blue tinge around the mouth and eyes of child, growth delays, bed-wetting, hyperactivity and inattentive behaviour during the day, these are warning signs of a more serious under lying condition such as OSA.
Sleep apnea is generally more annoying than dangerous, but children can suffer serious consequences is left untreated. Enlargement of the right side of the heart, high blood pressure, impaired development, which can effect their academic, and social growth are just a few obvious examples. It is well documented that boys under 8 years of age who snore are 3 times more likely to be hyperactive than their non-snoring peers.
The most common age groups diagnosed with OSA are the children who are in pre-school due to the fact that the size of their adenoids and tonsils are larger during that phase of their growth in relationship to their airways. Laboured, noisy breathing and brief lapses in breath may occur because of this, resulting in restless sleep. Tonsillectomies were once routinely performed for treatment of this condition, however, the number of surgeries in children have thankfully declined dramatically over the years due to advancements made in therapy.
It is important to have your child examined by your family doctor to rule out OSA, or other sleep issues, if snoring and other symptoms are of concern. It is also important to note that many children are also misdiagnosed with ADHD when their primary condition is sleep apnea, and because of this, it can also delay your child receiving proper treatment and care for their true condition.
In summary, children who suffer from sleep disorders need to be carefully watched and screened to prevent any subsequent delays in their growth and ability to thrive. If you are concerned about your child’s snoring, please don’t delay and see a physician as soon as you can.