Although a small kid’s snore may sound funny, or even cute to some parents, the snoring habit in children can lead to other issues such as poor school record, bedwetting and more. In fact, many children are wrongly diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) when actually they’re suffering from a sleep disorder. All that these children require is a good night’s sleep!
Scientists have closely studied the relation between sleep disorders and learning difficulties in children. In this article on snoring, we’ll throw some light on the adverse effect of snoring in children. All in all, you’ll get acquainted with a lot that you should know about snoring habit in children.
Children snore mainly owing to 3 important reasons – firstly, there’s an anatomical aspect to it, such as having a small airway or jaw from birth. Secondly, there is a possibility that the kid’s nerves and muscles aren’t well integrated enough during the sleep and hence don’t open the airway properly to facilitate breathing. Last but not the least, the most commonly found the reason behind snoring problem in children is enlarged adenoids and tonsils.
Yes, snoring in children is indeed a common phenomenon. Scientific studies on kids in the US and other parts of the world have revealed that around 11% to 12% of children falling in the age bracket of 1 years to 9 years suffer from habitual snoring. In this case, the child can be seen snoring heavily a minimum of 3 to 4 times each week.
You, as a parent should be concerned because underlying such snoring problem, there could be other health conditions that may seriously affect your child’s heart and brain. Furthermore, your child may not develop as expected due to the poor quality of sleep.
Many parents exclaim seeing their children snore that they don’t care much about it or are actually proud of it! Please note, this is far from funny. The fact that a child snores means that he/she could be facing some serious medical problem, and that his/her health needs evaluation.
When it comes to snoring habit in adults and children, the core principle remains the same – meaning that snoring is simply noisy breathing resulting from vibrations caused by air passing through a the upper airway. In essence, it’s nothing more than a sound.
When you’re fast asleep, your muscles fall asleep as well. Their relaxation causes the upper airway to collapse a little more. Resultantly, the air passing through it doesn’t have a lot of room to pass through.
Snoring could be a manifestation of serious conditions like upper airway resistance syndrome and/or sleep apnea too. As many as 3% of children throughout the world (in the age bracket of 1 to 9 years) suffer from these medical conditions.
Children suffering from upper airway resistance syndrome often wake up because of loud snoring, too much effort required in snoring or airway resistance. The child doesn’t experience any change in his/her oxygen intake or his/her tissue’s or blood’s carbon dioxide levels.
However, in case of sleep apnea, the child’s airway may collapse and fail to open, resulting in problems while taking in air or while breathing. If this happens too often, the child’s oxygen level may go down and carbon dioxide level may go up. Then, he/she’ll have no option but to wake up to catch some breath.
Snoring is never normal. However, every type of snoring doesn’t necessarily require treatment. It may not be a major cause of concern if your child snores a little occasionally. But if you see him/her wake up often during nights, quite clearly because of symptoms associated with sleep apnea or upper airway resistance syndrome, you need to take him/her to a doctor for treatment immediately.
Obesity in children is a major risk factor. If your child has a lot of fat accumulation around his/her neck, which gets pressed every time he/she lies down, it may put more pressure on the tissues that are in a relaxed state already, thereby making the airway or pharynx even narrower (for air passage).
Children whose parents are suffering from sleep apnea and children having hypotonia, neuromuscular diseases, asthma, allergies or down-syndrome have a higher risk of sleep apnea than others.
Children suffering from sleep apnea find it difficult to concentrate and many times show the symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). For instance, children who don’t like sleeping, resist it by becoming hyperactive. You can see them fighting with everyone and then crashing out eventually. Such kids can be seen having attention deficiency the following day and give a hard time staying put to their parents/teachers. In fact, many children who are initially diagnosed with ADHD, actually have sleep apnea.
Lack of adequate sleep causes oxygen deficiency in the brain, leading to loss of brain cells. Hence, when it is time for a child’s brain to develop at its best, he/she may face difficulties with his/her cognitive abilities because of sleep apnea.
If children having sleep apnea are diagnosed and treated in a timely manner, they’re automatically able to concentrate better at school and get high grades.
Going by the statistics around 8% 12% of children all over the world snore every night. This is referred to as habitual snoring. Around 3% to 5% of children suffer from sleep apnea. As explained above, sleep apnea if left untreated can adversely affect a child’s cardiovascular, cognitive and emotional development. Following are the top 10 signs that can come handy to ascertain whether your child’s snoring habit requires medical attention or not:
Morning headaches – These may be because of elevated blood pressure and low oxygen levels during sleep.
Obesity – Going by the statistics, 30% of all overweight children suffer from sleep apnea. If left untreated, such sleep apnea may lead to other medical problems like metabolic disorders, insulin resistance and hypertension. The child may also find it difficult to shed weight later in his/her life.
Pediatric hypertension – All kids having hypertension must undergo screening for sleep apnea too.
Inattentiveness and/or hyperactivity at school – Children suffering from sleep apnea are often misdiagnosed as suffering from ADHD. Hence, kids suffering from ADHD must be screened again carefully for sleep apnea too, to better understand the underlying causes.
Down syndrome – Around 40% to 70% of children having down- syndrome are known to have sleep apnea too. If not paid heed to, this condition can negatively impact their mental development and overall health.
Night terrors and sleepwalking – These can be caused due to sleep apnea. A study carried out at the Stanford University many years ago revealed that a large majority of children suffering from sleepwalking habit as well as sleep apnea showed tremendous improvement when their sleep apnea was treated.
Chronic bedwetting – Medical studies have also revealed that kids who are chronic bed-wetters often suffer from sleep apnea. In one such study, 42% of a children’s group that underwent treatment for sleep apnea was found to be bed wetter too. When treated for sleep apnea, 66% of those kids showed major improvement in their bedwetting habit.
Unusual postures during sleep – Children suffering from sleep apnea usually have a hyperactive extension of their necks. It helps them in keeping their airways open. Hence, if you see a child adopting unusual postures during sleep, he/she may be suffering from sleep apnea.
Inward motion of the breast bone and rib cage when breathing in – This occurs because of putting in a lot of effort trying to breathe in, due to a narrow airway.
Regular nighttime sweating – This occurs because of over-activity of a child’s sympathetic nervous system when he/she is fast asleep. It is triggered by depleting oxygen levels and the kid’s effort to breathe against a narrow or a closed airway.
Learn More: Read Our Latest Anti-Snoring Mouthpiece Reviews
Chief editor here at Snore Nation and a proud father of two cool boys. I am a reformed snorer, a reformed smoker, a reformed overeater, a reformed city dweller and a reformed workaholic stress monster on the mission to share my insider tips to restore that quality sleep for you and your partner!