Are you a habitual tobacco user? You may already know about many of the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, but did you know smoking around children can negatively impact their sleep? It’s true! Recent research has shed new light on the link between secondhand smoke and obstructive sleep apnea in children. If you have young kids at home and enjoy smoking cigarettes or other tobacco products, you will want to read today’s blog from a sleep dentist in Topeka.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which a person’s breathing is interrupted for ten seconds or more while they sleep. These brief interruptions can happen anywhere between a few times a night to hundreds of times depending on the severity of the condition.
There are two main types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea – The muscles in the back of the throat relax and obstruct the airway.
- Central sleep apnea – The brain fails to send the right signals to the muscles that control breathing.
Although obstructive sleep apnea is much more common than central sleep apnea, both types of the disorder can occur in combination.
How Common Is Pediatric Sleep Apnea?
Although adults are more likely to experience sleep apnea than kids, up to 4 percent of all children in the U.S. may suffer from this common disorder, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association. That is nearly 3 million children! Research suggests that pediatric sleep apnea is most common in children ages 2 to 8.
How Is Secondhand Smoke Linked to Sleep Apnea?
Exposure to secondhand smoke for children has long been known to cause acute respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia, among other serious health problems. However, it turns out that smoking around children can also worsen their existing sleep apnea problems.
In a recent study published in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology, researchers found that children with sleep apnea who were exposed to secondhand smoke experienced an increased number of pauses in breathing.
How Does Sleep Apnea Impact Children’s Health?
Untreated obstructive sleep apnea can lead to a variety of negative health consequences for children, such as:
- Chronic daytime fatigue
- Trouble focusing in the classroom
- Childhood obesity
- Heart problems
- Growth and cognitive delays
As you can see, it is incredibly important to both avoid smoking around children and also ensure that your son or daughter sees a sleep dentist in Topeka if they are having trouble sleeping at night. Better yet, talk to your doctor or dentist about how to drop your tobacco habit altogether!
About the Author
Dr. Michael Michel has decades of experience helping his patients overcome obstructive sleep apnea in Topeka and Silver Lake. A proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas School of Dentistry, Dr. Michel has completed advanced training in sleep apnea treatment and non-surgical treatment of temporomandibular joint dysfunction. Patients ready for a good night’s sleep can visit Dr. Michel’s website or call 785-273-0802 to learn more.