Children who snore while asleep can suffer of Sleep Apnea Syndrome, characterized by a temporary cessation of breathing during sleep decreasing the amount of oxygen in blood.
This oxygen reduction can result in a number of problems, some of them irreversible. Several studies on sleep apnea in children have been carried out. It has been observed, for instance, that children with apnea score lower in IQ tests and present damage in brain structures related to memory, learning, and development of cognitive and physiologic abilities, impairing even the child's reading skill.
Sleep apnea syndrome can also lead to slowing in child's growth and also to cardiorespiratory alterations, such as pulmonary hypertension.
As sleep is often interrupted in apnea cases, growth alteration is related to diminished production of Growth Hormone which is produced and released during sleep.
Some symptoms, besides snore, are found in children with apnea syndrome: mouth breathing, intense body movement during sleep, urinate in bed or profusely sweat during the night, cognitive and behavioral alterations like attention deficit and hyperactivity, which can cause impaired learning and low performance in school.
Leaning problems are six times more frequent in children with sleep apnea syndrome.
Treatment and explanations - There are many causes for apnea but the major one is the hypertrophy (increasing in size) of tonsils and adenoids. Other causes include obesity, cranium-facial malformations and neuromuscular diseases.
This syndrome may occur in any age and gender, including newborns, but the predominantly occurs in children at pre-school age, when tonsils hypertrophy is more common.
Apnea syndrome treatment can be surgical, by medicines (corticosteroids) and others. In recent studies, surgical removal of tonsils and adenoids have shown efficacy making the case better and even achieving cure, improving children's life quality.
Since it is a syndrome with potential irreversible brain damages, the early diagnosis is of extreme importance. When symptoms of sleep apnea syndrome are detected, the immediate search for a doctor and an early diagnosis can help the child, making his / her sleep quality, learning, and social skills better.