If you’re a smoker, you’re probably not too concerned about the effects smoking can have on your body. But have you ever thought about what it may be doing to your children? Even if they’re just exposed to secondhand smoke, it can have all sorts of dangerous side effects on their growing bodies. For young children, that includes increasing their risk of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Unfortunately, this disorder can prevent your little ones from getting the quality rest they need. Read along to learn more about the impact secondhand smoke can have on your child’s sleep.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a disorder that causes the body to stop breathing multiple times throughout the night. If your child suffers from this condition, it can cause their oxygen levels to drop, which is extremely harmful to their developing body. Since sleep apnea causes your little one’s breathing to stop repeatedly while they’re sleeping, they wake up often to get some air. As a result, they won’t be getting the quality rest they need to develop and grow up healthy.
The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Secondhand Smoke
Did you know that sleep apnea is rare in children? It has a relatively low prevalence rate of about 4%. However, a recent study found that children between the ages of 3 and 18 have a much higher chance of developing the disorder if they’re exposed to secondhand smoke. Additionally, those children are more likely to suffer from a severe form of sleep apnea. It’s worth noting that the relationship between sleep apnea and secondhand smoke is still under investigation. Some other risk factors to watch out for include obesity, enlarged tonsils, a small jaw, craniofacial syndromes, muscle weakness, and down syndrome.
How Can You Tell If Your Child Has Sleep Apnea?
The only way to know for certain whether or not your child suffers from sleep apnea is to have them undergo a sleep study. A professional sleep will use a special device to monitor their vitals during the night, watching out for signs or patterns that could indicate the condition. Once your sleep dentist confirms a diagnosis, you can begin to explore treatment options for your little one.
If your child exhibits any of the following, they may be suffering from sleep apnea:
- Unusual sleepiness throughout the day
- Difficulty paying attention
- Loud snoring
- Repeated pauses in breathing while sleeping
You can lower your child’s chances of developing sleep apnea by staying away from smoking. Not only will it help your little one sleep better, but it can ensure they grow up happy and healthy!
About the Author
Dr. Erin M. Prach strives to give patients the exceptional and personalized dental care they deserve. After completing her dental education, she opened her own practice in September 2015. Not only is Dr. Prach passionate about helping patients maintain a healthy smile, but get a better night’s sleep as well. If you think your child may have sleep apnea, don’t hesitate to contact her for a sleep study. You can reach Dr. Prach via her website or call (307) 337-4770.