Did you know that more than 10% of children suffer from snoring part or most of the night while sleeping? It’s true, and it may be an indicator of a far more serious problem–sleep apnea.
Symptoms that parents should be watchful for:
1. â€œSnoring that is loud enough to wake your child upâ€ is the first indicator of sleep apnea, according to Dr. Dan Smith of the Focus Center for Sleep Apnea and Snoring. This is not the occasional snort or two but that incessant, honking-level snoring!
2. â€œIf your child ceases breathing intermittently while sleeping.â€ When sleep apnea occurs, the tongue can be sucked against the back of the throat. This blocks the upper airway and airflow stops or is greatly diminished.
3. â€œSuddenly waking up because he or she can not breathe and has shortness of breath or gasping.â€ This is directly linked to symptom #2, says Dr. Smith. When the oxygen level in the brain becomes low enough due to the blockage, the sleeper partially awakens, the obstruction in the throat clears, and the flow of air starts again, usually with a loud gasp.
4. â€œIf your child is excessively drowsy during the day.â€ This does not mean hitting the proverbial wall at 3 pm that a quick snack can fix or throwing a temper tantrum due to exhaustion. This means actually accidentally falling asleep during the day (not during nap time).
Sleep apnea is one of the most misdiagnosed medical problems–especially in children–and parents should know that loud and regular nightly snoring is often abnormal in otherwise healthy children. If a child suffers from this condition, he or she may be getting too little oxygen and too much carbon dioxide. This condition can lead to poor heart and lung development, behavioral problems, and even death if unchecked.
Thankfully, health centers have opened to help diagnose and treat sleep apnea. If you are concerned that your child may be suffering from sleep apnea, discuss your concerns with your child’s pediatrician to find out if further testing is needed.