Mom to Mom: Taking Snoring Seriously
Many of us might be used to hearing some snoring during the night. My husband snores loudly. But so does our 6-year-old son!
I find it odd that a little body can match the snoring sound of an older person. Two years ago our son had his tonsils and adenoids removed, which was supposed to help solve the problem. His tonsils were so enlarged they touched! I remember it made a difference in the beginning, but not so much anymore. He snores so loudly we can hear him when we are downstairs. My other children will even wake up sometimes and ask us to “please move Dominic again so he stops being so noisy.”
I think it’s a laughable coincidence that a recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) showed kids who snore might have behavioral problems. He is by far our most difficult child. I wonder if they are on to something?
The AAP says sleep apnea in children is a growing problem. You might not realize it, but besides behavior problems, sleep apnea can be responsible for hypertension and heart problems, failure to thrive, and inflammation throughout the body.
This latest study encouraged me to do some research. After this study, the AAP released a set of sleep apnea guidelines; it’s their first since 2002 (a decade ago!), and I’m sure things have changed. You might be surprised to learn about some of these as well.
According to the AAP, all children and adolescents should be screened for snoring at their regular health visits. Also, children who have symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, such as habitual snoring, disturbed sleep from intermittent pauses, snorts or gasps, or daytime behavioral problems, should be referred for a sleep study (you know what I’ll be scheduling soon). A child with obstructive sleep apnea and enlarged tonsils should be referred to a surgeon to consider tonsil removal surgery. After surgery, children who snore should be reassessed to see if their sleep apnea has improved or if they will need any further treatments. If children do not improve after surgery, they should be considered for CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), which is a breathing apparatus, often worn at night, that keeps airways open. Weight loss is recommended for any overweight or obese patient. Nasal sprays, or intranasal steroids, are recommended for patients with mild sleep apnea symptoms, either in lieu of or after tonsil surgery.
If your child has a snoring or sleep apnea issue, I encourage you to get him/her checked out. One of our relative’s daughters had a bad case of sleep apnea. She was a very shy, withdrawn child. After her tonsils and adenoids were removed, she became a different person practically overnight! It was amazing to see the transformation. She went from a child who sat on the bench at recess to a child who started making friends and engaging in play, and even started participating in class. It’s important to note that a good night’s sleep is especially important for children because that is the time when their bodies make cells needed for growth and maturity.
The Banner Desert Sleep Center at Cardon Children’s Medical Center is a fully accredited child-friendly center and can accommodate newborns and up. The staff can help diagnose sleep problems beyond snoring and sleep apnea, including excessive sleepiness, movement disorders and insomnia.
Here’s to a restful night for everyone!
Mom to Mom is a column written by Mary Parra, an Ahwatukee mother of four and a local journalist.