Snoring is quite common in both children and adults. As a result, it’s easy for a lot of parents to dismiss it as normal or no cause for alarm. However, this is not always the case as it may be a red alert your child has a sleep disorder, including sleep apnea – a serious condition whereby breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. This can adversely affect his heart and brain.
If your child snores, here are a few warning signs there may be an underlying problem and he should see a doctor…
1. Snoring on a regular basis. Snoring when they have a cold or just occasionally is usually no cause for alarm, however, if your child snores three or more nights every week, especially if it’s loud, there may be an underlying problem and you should have him checked.
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Doing so is even more crucial if you notice he experiences difficulty sleeping or his breathing is interrupted by gasps, snorts, or pauses longer than 10 seconds which wakes him up at night.
2. Profuse sweating during sleep. If your child snores and sweats excessively while asleep, especially at night, it may be also be a red alert. Profuse sweating in this case is likely triggered by low oxygen and efforts to breathe with a blocked or closed airway.
3. Restlessness during sleep. Bouts of restlessness while asleep is also another typical sign. If your child snores and keeps tossing on his bed while sleeping and sleeps in unusual positions, it’s best to see a doctor to be sure all is well.
Watch the position of your child’s head and neck too. It is said that hyperactive extension of the neck is common in children with sleep apnea as it may help keep their airway open.
4. Frequent/chronic bed-wetting. Children whose snoring may signal sleep apnea may have stopped bed-wetting for a fairly long while, say 6 months, and suddenly resume. In other cases, the red alert may be very frequent bed-wetting at night, especially if the child should have stopped wetting the bed.
5. Regular sleepwalking and night terrors. If your child snores and experiences these, it may be a warning sign of sleep apnea. See a doctor to be sure.
6. Excessive sleepiness during the day. This is usually an indication of lack of quality or adequate sleep during the night due to restless sleep or frequent wakings. The child may also be difficult to wake, cranky, irritable or seem tired in the mornings. He may also have formed the habit of falling asleep or daydreaming during the day, even during classes at school.
If your child snores and his teacher frequently reports he has difficulty paying attention in class or falls asleep, has learning or behavioural problems or is usually hyperactive, see a doctor to rule out sleep apnea.
7. Breathing through the mouth. See a doctor as well if your child snores and always speaks nasally or breaths basically through his mouth. It may be a sign he needs treatment for his snoring or a symptom of sleep apnea.
8. Morning headaches. This is also a typical sign there’s a problem. Due to low oxygen caused by respiratory problems, children with sleep apnea often experience increased blood pressure while sleeping which may cause headaches in the mornings and during the day.
Finally, if your child snores and is overweight or obese, there are increased chances he may have sleep apnea. You should see a doctor to rule this out.