Baby sound sleeping

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When little Johnny or Janie  first begins to snore, it’s natural for parents to see it as another cute childhood habit.  In reality, snoring children can be showing symptoms of a serious underlying problem.

When children snore, it can be a sign of OSA, or Obstructive Sleep Apnea.  This condition can pose a serious problem in up to three percent of healthy, normal preschoolers.  Most often, snoring in children under the age of six years old is caused by problems related to the adenoids and tonsils.  For these children, it’s not the size of the child or the tonsils that creates the snoring; it’s the muscle tone that makes the difference.  Children who have cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy,  craniofacial anomalies or Down syndrome are at higher risk for developing OSA.

Snoring in children with Obstructive Sleep Apnea is an indication that they are having problem breathing while sleeping.  These children tend to  sleep restlessly.  Their parents or caregivers often notice this behavior, often waking or moving  them to make sure everything is OK, but will forget to mention the problem to the doctor.  These children, while awake, are able to breathe fully, without any hindrance, although they are usually mouth-breathers.

If you’ve observed this sleeping behavior in your child, you must seek medical attention.  Once the doctor has been alerted of the problem, a quick study of family history will usually show that someone in the immediate family is also prone to snoring.

Treatment Alternatives for Snoring Children

The initial step in finding a suitable treatment is a sleep study. The physician will normally request a polysomnography. This test at the hospital,  is painless and performed overnight, and is useful in diagnosing a variety of sleep disorders.  During a polysomnography,  a variety of data will be recorded, including  heartbeat, muscle strength, brainwaves, eye movements, ease of breathing and respiratory ability.  The results for children, of course, will present differently than those for adults, as children naturally have different sleeping patterns than adults.

Once the test has been completed, the doctor may suggest surgery to remove both the adenoids and the tonsils. This will help to open the airway, essentially ending the snoring  and the OSA.  It will take 6 to 8 weeks before healing is complete, and the positive results of the surgery are evident.  It is suggested that the child receive no other treatments during this period of healing.

On the other hand, some kids simply snore.  If your child does not show symptoms of having Obstructive Sleep Apnea, then it’s not necessary to have the surgery.

Never rush into operation; even a minor surgery is a trauma to the body and can be especially traumatic for young children.  If your doctor, however, indicates that OSA is present and recommends surgery, by all means, go ahead.  The operation will help to calm the snoring and increase the amount of oxygen your child receives while sleeping.  Clearly, these are both essential to the overall wellness of your child.

All parents want to give the basic needs for their children.  This includes making sure that the child is getting enough of the right kind of sleep.  Consult a pediatrician if you suspect that your child is suffering with Obstructive Sleep Apnea.  Find the treatment alternative that is best for your child, and provide the sweet dreams that he or she needs and deserves.

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Filed under: Snoring