Snoring is not something we generally associate with children, but up to ten percent of children snore. Should you be worried if your child snores? That depends on how heavy the snoring is. About three percent of children suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome, condition in which the airways become so obstructed during sleep that they are unable to breathe.
What Symptoms Indicate That a Child May Have Sleep Apnea?
Certain types of snoring indicate the need for a visit to your family doctor. The problem may stem from a respiratory tract infection, swollen tonsils, or it could be the result of a mild allergy that causes a stuffy nose. Obstructive sleep apnea is a worst-case scenario. Take your child to the doctor if:
- Snoring is loud
- The child sometimes gasps for breath between snores
- Snoring is accompanied by snorting sounds
- The child wakes up at night because of his or her own snoring
It’s an uncomfortable thought knowing that a child with sleep apnea can stop breathing for as much as a minute before the body forces him or her to wake up and take a breath. A child who wakes up repeatedly or struggles to sleep deeply because of snoring is at a decided disadvantage.
Consequences of Snoring in Children
Childhood development experts agree that getting enough sleep is important for a child’s health as well as physical and mental development. You’ve probably noticed that your child is grumpy and tearful when he or she has had a bad night, but that’s the least of the problems poor sleep brings with it.
- The body produces human growth hormone during sleep. Children who are small for their age often don’t sleep well enough.
- When a child struggles to breathe, stress hormones are triggered many times a night. This can contribute to diabetes, weight problems, and even heart disease.
- Insufficient sleep makes your child more susceptible to illness. The immune system is weakened by insufficient sleep.
- Not getting enough sleep can lead children to exhibit the symptoms of attention deficit disorder, affecting their schoolwork and ability to learn.
What Should You do if Your Child Snores?
If you’re worried about your child’s snoring, you should consult your doctor. A lot of kids just need to have their tonsils removed to cure the problem once and for all. However, some kids just snore without having sleep apnea. This is called “primary snoring,” and although it’s not as serious as sleep apnea, it also has health implications related to poor sleep.
What can you do to help your child reduce primary snoring? Your doctor will give you specific advice, but these basics could help:
- Keep your kid off caffeine, and check soft drink ingredients for caffeine.
- If your child sleeps on his or her back, work on the sleep position. Try propping the child into position with pillows to encourage sleeping on the side.
- Look out for signs of allergies such as mold, pollen, or dust allergies. As your doctor abut trying anti-allergy medications if you suspect snoring might come from an allergy.
- If your child is overweight, encourage healthy diet and exercise.
- Try anti-snore pillows that keep the head back during sleep to keep the airways open.
- Find out about chin straps that advance the jaw to keep the airways open when your child is asleep.
Giving your child the best start in life is a big responsibility, and getting enough sleep is important for your child’s health and wellbeing. Snoring is a tricky problem to tackle, but the sooner you do so, the better.
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