Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Important News About Sleep Apnea and Your Child

More than 10% of children suffer from snoring part or most of the night while sleeping. Though snoring in itself is not debilitating (I've been known to snore myself), your child’s loud snoring can be an indicator of a far more serious problem-- Sleep Apnea.

According to Dr. Dan Smith of the Focus Center for Sleep Apnea and Snoring, “Approximately 100 to 200 million Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Sleep Apnea can cause long-term health risks such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and impotency.”

Below is Dr. Smith’s list of the 4 symptoms of Sleep Apnea that should not be ignored:

  • Snoring that is loud enough to wake your child up is the first indicator of OSA, according to Dr. Smith. This is not the occasional snort or two but that incessant, honking-level snoring.
  • If your child ceases breathing intermittently while sleeping. When OSA occurs, the tongue can be sucked against the back of the throat. This blocks the upper airway and airflow stops or is greatly diminished.
  • Suddenly waking up because he or she can not breathe and has shortness of breath or gasping. 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.
  • If your child is excessively drowsy during the day. 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).

While snoring is typically a problem that is associated with men, it is a condition that does not discriminate. Dr. Smith says men, women and children can suffer from OSA. It is one of the most misdiagnosed medical problems – especially in children.

Loud and regular nightly snoring is often abnormal in otherwise healthy children. If a child suffers from OSA, 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 like the Focus Sleep Center have opened to help diagnose and treat sleep apnea.

This post was intended as informational and educational and was not sponsored in any way.

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