Snoring is a common problem that affects not only adults but children, as well. It is estimated that 10% of children snore regularly. For many, this isn’t an issue, but two to four percent of children have obstructive sleep apnea, a potentially dangerous condition that can lead to serious health problems down the road.
What Causes Snoring in Children?
Snoring is the result of airflow obstruction in the nose and mouth. This is typically caused by a relaxation of the throat tissues, causing the tongue, uvula and soft palate to vibrate together when your child breathes. Other causes include obesity, abnormalities of the jaw and tongue, or neuromuscular disorders.
Snoring and Behavior Problems
Snoring is a concern because a good night’s sleep is essential for your child’s growth and development. Daytime fatigue can lead to learning issues and is associated with attention deficit disorders in some children.
Children who snore can become irritable and moody, and are at risk for health issues including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and lung disorders. Snoring can lead to increased urine production at night, which often results in bedwetting. Plus, when your child shares sleeping quarters with siblings or friends, there is the social stigma.
Child Sleep Apnea
The worst type of snoring is obstructive sleep apnea. This is marked by gaps in breathing that may last for 30 seconds or more. This can lead to daytime fatigue, learning difficulties and health problems, as described above. Also, obstructive sleep apnea can limit growth since breathing burns an excess number of calories, even during sleep.
What Are the Symptoms of Snoring?
Snoring isn’t always the sign of a severe condition. Still, suppose your child exhibits loud snoring regularly, especially in conjunction with gasping for breath and thrashing around in bed. In that case, it’s best to schedule an appointment with a doctor who specializes in sleep disorders.
Treatment for Pediatric Snoring
Snoring in children is often the result of overgrown tonsils and adenoids. If this is the case, surgical removal can often restore normal airflow. This is generally recommended only in severe cases; your child’s doctor may take a wait-and-see approach if symptoms are minor. Other solutions include weight loss or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices or mouth guards.
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