Pediatric Snoring & Sleep
Snoring is a common problem that affects not only adults, but children, as well. It is estimated that 10 percent of children snore regularly. For many this isn’t an issue, but two to four percent of children have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a potentially dangerous condition that causes problematic daytime symptoms and can lead to serious health problems down the road. These could include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and lung disorders.
What Causes Snoring and OSA?
Snoring is the result of vibration of the structures in the back of the nose, mouth or throat. In OSA, a child’s breathing is disturbed by narrowing or blockage of the upper airway. This causes repeated partial or complete awakenings throughout the night, so the child cannot get the restful sleep that is essential to normal brain development and growth. Blockages of the airway could be due to:
- Enlarged tonsils and adenoids
- Swollen nasal cavities
- Abnormalities of the jaw and tongue (such as in Down’s Syndrome)
- Neuromuscular disorders (such as cerebral palsy)
While adults who have OSA are usually sleepy and sluggish during the day, children are more likely to have behavioral problems. Know the symptoms of childhood OSA because early diagnosis and treatment are important to prevent problems with your child’s growth, brain development and behavior.
Nighttime symptoms of OSA might include:
- Pauses in breathing
- Restless sleep (rolling around in bed, frequently changing position)
- Snorting, coughing or choking
- Mouth breathing
- Bed wetting
- Sleep terrors
Keep in mind, infants and young children with OSA may not snore and may just have disturbed sleep.
Daytime symptoms of OSA might include:
- Performing poorly in school
- Learning problems
- Attention and behavioral problems
- Poor weight gain
An ENT specialist can help you determine whether your child’s snoring is harmless or there is a concern for obstructive sleep apnea. A thorough history gathering and examination is the first step. It is often helpful for you to use your phone to record a few minutes of your child’s sleep, as this can be valuable information for your doctor to hear and view if possible.
One of the most common causes for snoring and sleep apnea in children is overgrown tonsils and adenoids which block the airway during sleep. If this is determined to be the case, surgical removal can often restore normal airflow and dramatically improve the quality of your child’s sleep.
If you have questions and concerns related to your child’s sleep, we can help! Call DeFatta ENT & Allergy at (715) 828-2368 for more information or to schedule an appointment.