Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by loud snoring that interrupts the breathing cycle. In some cases it goes undetected for years. In the worst cases you can hear the sleeping person gasp for air. When left undiagnosed and/or untreated, sleep apnea can lead to heart disease as well as other, more serious problems.
Though the disease is fairly common in adults, it is rare in children. When your child is obese, his chances of having apnea increase greatly.
Do you hear your child snoring from down the hall as if he were lying right next to you? Don't wait a moment longer to have him checked by his pediatrician for obstructive sleep apnea.
The disorder causes disruptions in sleep so your child will feel like a zombie, never finishing a sleep cycle and feeling more tired upon waking than he did when falling asleep. Tired children have trouble succeeding in school, having more behavioral problems and worse grades than their well-rested colleagues.
Some tried and true signs of sleep apnea are present both during the day and night. If your child has behavioral problems, complains of headaches, has trouble waking up and breathes through his mouth during the day, he may have sleep apnea. If he snores loudly, pauses breathing during the night, sleeps restlessly or sweats heavily, he may have apnea. As stated earlier, chances of developing the disorder rise greatly as does your child's weight.
Thankfully, there is help. Many children have their tonsils removed to make breathing easier at night. Throat exercises can help to keep the air passageways clear during the night. And regular exercise can cut obese children's weight in half, adding years to their lives.