Secondhand smoke is a dangerous mixture that consists of more than 7,000 chemicals, hundreds of which are known to be toxic — 70 of them are even carcinogenic. Clearly, if you smoke, you should do everything in your power to protect your loved ones from secondhand exposure. It is particularly vital to protect children. This blog post is going to discuss just one risk that secondhand smoke presents to young ones — sleep apnea.
Secondhand Smoke and Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea, often called OSA for short, is a disorder that causes repeated pauses in breathing throughout the night. It happens when tissues in the throat block the free flow of air. OSA is most common in older individuals, but it can afflict children as well. Without proper treatment, it can lead to a slew of health consequences that can affect both daily life and long-term wellness.
A study published in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology found a significant correlation between an increased risk of severe OSA in children and secondhand smoke. This was true even after the researchers adjusted their data to account for other OSA risk factors, such as body mass index, race, and even household income.
Does Secondhand Smoke Actually Cause Severe OSA in Children?
The abovementioned study found a correlation between secondhand smoke and OSA in children; it did not definitely establish causation. However, it is reasonable to assume that the smoke has a direct role in worsening obstructive sleep apnea. Secondhand smoke is well-known to cause inflammation and irritation in the respiratory tract. Therefore, it could potentially contribute to airway obstruction during sleep.
Is Your Child Suffering from OSA?
If anyone in your household is a smoker, you should always be on the lookout for signs of OSA in your children. They may need to undergo a sleep test if:
- You notice that your child sometimes stops breathing while asleep.
- Your child frequently and loudly snores.
- You see that your child is often tired, despite spending a reasonable amount of time in bed.
- Your child’s school performance is suffering.
- Your child suffers from night terrors or bed wetting.
If your child gets diagnosed with OSA, you can begin to learn about treatment options, such as a custom oral appliance. Of course, it would also be ideal to end their exposure to secondhand smoke.
Secondhand smoke is bad for children for many reasons — including the impact it can have on their sleep. Stay alert to signs of sleep problems in your little one so that, if necessary, you can help them receive timely treatment.
Meet the Sleep Apnea Expert
Dr. Mitch Conditt is a dentist who specializes in providing sleep apnea treatment via oral appliance therapy. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Craniofacial Dental Sleep Medicine and a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, as well as other prestigious organizations. To learn more about Dr. Conditt and how he may be able to serve your family, contact us at 817-527-8500.