When a child snores a parent might find the habit laughable coming from someone so young. Most children snore occasionally and about 10% snore on a regular basis.
The raucous display, though odd, is usually no reason for alarm. Children snore too and when they do it is often in the deepest part of their sleep cycle. But for a small percentage of children (1-3%) persistent snoring can signal a more serious health problem.
Children and obstructive sleep apnea
Breathing that appears laboured while snoring or is characterized by snorting, gasping and pauses should not be ignored.
Your child could be suffering from sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder. The interruptions that occur during the breathing process are caused when the throat narrows or closes.
When a parent observes these breathing patterns in a sleeping child it is imperative to seek the advice of a physician or sleep specialist.
ADHD and sleep apnea
When sleep apnea is ignored and not treated the child’s condition may lead to inappropriate behaviours at school or home, slow growth development and even heart failure.
The child may have restless sleeps and be difficult to wake in the morning. They could complain of headaches, appear aggressive and be generally irritable. The child may also fall asleep at school or find it difficult to focus on activities during the course of their day.
Another sign to be aware of is the child who still continues bedwetting especially when snoring. A child with sleep apnea can also have ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). Interestingly enough, symptoms for sleep apnea and ADHD can crossover causing some confusion when a diagnosis is made.
The common symptoms both these problems share are lack of focus, hyperactivity and nervousness. Children with ADHD are often misdiagnosed when in actuality they suffer from sleep apnea. Sometimes a child can suffer from both. It is best to leave the proper assessment to your physician or a sleep specialist.
When the proper medical assessments heave been completed a child with sleep apnea has a series of options. If the child has large tonsils or adenoids surgical they can simply be surgically removed.
A small child’s throat is small in relation to the size of tonsils. When swollen they can be the sole cause of OSA and when removed the OSA is resolved. A different surgery may be required if structural problems with the face, throat or jaw are the causes of the child’s sleep apnea.
Another possible treatment plan when surgery is not appropriate is the PAP (Positive Airway Pressure) method. When this treatment is used the child wears a mask over the nose and a steady flow of air keeps the airway open. This prevents the typical interruptions in breathing while the child is asleep.
Parents who have snoring children don’t need to hit the panic button. Some snoring can be the result of more common ailments like allergy, a cold or chest infection. For mild or occasional snoring a humidifier placed close to the bed can bring relief.