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Does My Snoring Child Have Apnea?: September 27, 2012

So your child is a noisy sleeper. What does it mean? Experts suggest parents of snorers should have their kids screened to find out if they have sleep apnea.

“American Academy of Pediatrics guideline is to evaluate the difference between obstructive sleep apnea and primary snoring,” says Dr. Jose Colon, a sleep specialist with Lee Memorial Health System.

It’s important to know if your child has this sleep disorder that causes them to briefly stop breathing throughout the night. It’s linked to behavioral and learning problems and may affect their growth.

Sleep apnea is the number one reason children today get their tonsils removed. The rationale is that the tonsils and adenoids are too big and that’s making it difficult to breathe, but sleep specialists say not so fast.

“Two to three percent of the pediatric population have obstructive sleep apnea. That’s three out of every 100 kids.  Whereas nine to ten percent have what’s called primary snoring. With the primary snoring, the actual tonsil itself that may be causing the snoring sound but it’s not causing limitation in the airflow.  Their sleep is not being disrupted,” says Dr. Colon.

Finding the source of their snoring may take specialized testing, which monitors your sleeping child through the night.

“At our sleep lab, it is an exclusive pediatric sleep lab at HealthPark.  The technicians work with children not every once in a while but daily.  It’s what they do.  And there are different ways that we are able to get equipment on, in friendly ways, and they are able to sleep through the evening,” says Dr. Colon.

If screening proves your child does have apnea, there are several options available including medication, dental devices that create more air space, a sleep mask or tonsillectomy. Snoring can be the sign of a serious illness, finding answers should help parent and child rest easier.