Sleep is an important factor in the normal physical and mental development of children. It is needed for satisfactory daily activities and success at school. A good sleep in needed for a healthy child.
Today we know that snoring isn’t reserved only for adults. Many children also snore in the sleep but why? Children can snore due to a cold or even severe respiratory disturbance.
Causes for Child’s Snoring
There are a few causes for children snoring. Usually, the enlarged pharyngeal tonsil and tonsils (in this case both are surgically removed) are the reason for snoring. Allergies can also cause it also. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is also possible as a result of a repeated temporary respiratory tract blockage. It appears as a short-term respiratory failure blockage. Such respiratory breaks are harmful. They reduce the saturation of blood with oxygen, which in the long run can harm many organs.
Syndrome of Obstructive Sleep Apnea – SOSA
Some disease conditions are most severe and mainly seen during sleep when breathing disorders occur. The result is reduced oxygen supply for the body. In recent years doctors increasingly diagnose respiratory disturbances during sleep. Disturbances occur due to reduced air flow through the upper respiratory tract. We call it the syndrome of obstructive sleep apnea during sleep – SOSA.
These disorders occur in children and adults, but the causes are different. In the course of one episode, short-term reduced supply of blood and tissue with oxygen occur together with sleep disorders and cardiac disturbances. Fatigue and behavioural disorders can occur as a longer and later effect of insufficient breathing. The high blood pressure and signs of heart disease can develop. If we don’t know what SOSA is and don’t treat it; there can be permanent and even life-threatening consequences.
Life of a Child
It is estimated that SOSA occurs in 1-3% of children in pre-school and school age. Activity and rest, sleep and alertness change within 24 hours, and last depending on the child’s age. The newborn sleeps even 20 out of 24 hours. This time shortens and the child sleeps 14-15 hours, 2-4 hours a day at the end of the first year of sleep.
In addition to 8-10 hours of night sleep, the pre-school child still requires at least 1-2 hours of daily sleep. Meanwhile, the child sleeps mainly at night for 8-10 hours when he is going to school.
Periods of varying deep sleep are changing. Periods are changing from the deepest sleep phase to the very active phase. At deepest sleep phase all life functions, including brain activity, are at the lowest level. The muscles are completely relaxed. At a very active phase, dreams and increased general activity, including muscle activity are present.
Despite varying deep sleep and reduced respiratory activity, decreased heart rate, and decreased muscle and brain activity, all tissues and organs are well-supplied with oxygen all the time, and all cellular functions are working as they should.
When Obstructive Sleep Apnea Occurs?
The occurrence of obstructive sleep apnea has some possible causes. In children, it is most commonly associated with an enlarged lymphatic tissue located on the upper wall of the pharyngeal tonsils and in the transitional part between the oral cavity and the oesophagus (pharyngeal tonsil and tonsils).
Lymphatic tissue in the nasal cavity can also be increased. Other conditions that lead to obstruction of the upper respiratory tract during sleep are much rarer and are present in children with facial and nasal abnormalities (e.g., Down’s syndrome, small lower jaw, etc.).
What are the Signs?
Children who have a problem with obstructive sleep apnea most often snore, breathe more or less through the mouth, and are extremely restless during sleep. They often awake during the sleep.
Children with SOSA have a lot more problems when sleeping. They can walk or talk during sleep, have nightmares or lift out of the bed. These children don’t have any special breathing problems throughout the day.
But we can see disorders as daytime sleepiness at older children (e.g. a child sleeping in front of the TV in the afternoon). Young children can experience fatigue, which can be reflected in hyperactivity, aggression, impulsive behaviour or outages.
Older children may have worse concentration between daily activities and poorer school performance. Long-term disorders can lead to heart strain and changes in the lung blood vessels, as well as a decrease in body development.
Treatment of SOSA
The most successful and simplest treatment for SOSA is the operational removal of tonsils (tonsillectomy). This is the most common cause of the disorder. All the problems disappear in most children after this operation. If there is no improvement after the tonsillectomy, the oxygen is given to the child through the nose at night. It has a very good effect on some children, but this type of treatment is useful especially for adult, obese patients.
Night problems that warn of respiratory disturbances during sleep can have several causes. Snoring, night walking, talking, and restless sleep or anxiety disorders such as fatigue, frustration, behavioural disorders and concentration problems can be the causes. So it is always necessary to consult with a paediatrician.
Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is only one of the possible causes. If it is possible, we recommend a diagnostic procedure to exclude or prove obstructive sleep apnea and identify other causes (e.g. asthma). By appropriate treatment, the cause of the disease can be quickly and effectively eliminated.