Does your child snore at night? About 8-12% of children commonly snore, with 3-5% of children having sleep apnea. Pediatric sleep apnea is just as dangerous for children as it is for adults–and shouldn’t be ignored. The sleep disorder has been linked to negative impacts on a child’s emotional, cognitive. and physical development, as well as cardiovascular health. Here’s what to look for to consider if your child’s snoring may be a sign of sleep apnea:
Frequent sweating at night: The, “fight or flight,” reaction of the sympathetic nervous system causes over activity as a response to the low oxygen.
Their rib cage and breastbone moves inward as they breathe during sleep: This is caused by strenuous efforts to breathe in as their airway is blocked.
Sleeping in unusual positions: In order to keep their airway open, children with sleep apnea try to extend their necks as far as possible.
Morning headaches: This is due to the combination of a lack of oxygen and high blood pressure while sleeping.
Frequent bedwetting: Several studies have confirmed the high number of children with sleep apnea also wet the bed. Almost half of children with sleep apnea do, but treating the sleep disorder does help with bed wetting problems.
Hyperactivity and problems paying attention: It is very common that children with sleep apnea are misdiagnosed with ADHD, which makes the problem worse. Always get your child screened for sleep disorders first.
Night terrors and sleep walking: Sleep apnea can cause the frequent occurrence of these activities of these sleep disorders but, treatment has been shown to eliminate them.
Down syndrome: 40%-70% of children with Down syndrome also have sleep apnea. When it’s left untreated, it can negative affect their mental development and health.
Obesity: Sleep apnea in children who are obese increases their already high chances developing high blood pressure, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders. In addition, sleep apnea makes it difficult for children to maintain and lose weight to stay healthy.
It is critical not to ignore snoring and bring it up to your child’s pediatrician, along with any other behaviors that may be related to how they sleep. Sleep apnea is easily treated in most cases and once patients improve their sleep, their overall health and well-being follows.