Should your child be snoring at night? Probably not! It is estimated that 10% of all children will snore at night. About one-third of children who snore will have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or sleep disordered breathing. These disorders are characterized by consistent snoring associated with restless sleep, frequent awakenings, and short pauses in breathing (apnea). Children with these problems may also experience night terrors, bed wetting, consistent nasal congestion, mouth breathing, and daytime hyperactivity.
These type of sleeping issues definitely affect the quality of a child’s sleep, but may have many other negative effects as well. Multiple studies show that childhood obstructive sleep apnea can be associated with a decrease in quality of life, a decline in growth, behavioral problems, inattention/ADHD, poor school performance, and negative effects on a child’s cardiovascular system and central nervous system.
Often an experienced otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat physician) can diagnose these types of pediatric sleep disorders with a detailed history and physical exam. These children will often have large tonsils and adenoids, but studies have shown that in many cases of pediatric OSA there is no correlation between tonsil size and the severity of the disease. If the diagnosis is questionable or there are other related factors (facial abnormalities, morbid obesity, neuromuscular disorders) then a sleep study (polysomnography) may be ordered to verify the diagnosis.
The gold standard treatment for pediatric obstructive sleep apnea is a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. This will resolve the snoring and related problems in 85% of cases of pediatric OSA. The improvement in the quality of their sleep not only improves their quality of life, but often leads to improvements in school performance and behavior as well. Some children will experience a growth spurt after the surgery.
If your child snores talk to your pediatrician or make an appointment with one of our physicians at ENT Specialists of Abilene. We can help you determine if they have obstructive sleep apnea and might benefit from surgical intervention.