Monash University Professor Rosemary Horne has warned parents snoring is not a harmless process their kids will outgrow. The study of 136 children aged 7-12 and 128 aged 3-5 revealed their blood pressure had improved after treatment however Professor Horne warns although these children showed improvement, they were still behind their classmates who had never snored.The study has found children who snore are at risk of long-term harm to their heart and brain function.Brain scans of Melbourne children have shown that in those that snore, areas of the brain connected to blood pressure, mood and behaviour were injured.Blood pressure is the force with which blood moves around the body and it can be a problem when it is too high or too low.The study by Monash University team found increased blood pressure levels, higher reports of poor behaviour and reduced intellectual ability among young snorers. With up to 30 per cent of children snoring, study leader Professor Rosemary Horne said parents needed to understand the risks.“This is affecting how they behave at school, how they learn at school, their blood pressure and also we now have evidence that there are changes to their brain,” Prof Horne said.“What we want to know now, is that if you treat these children whether the deficits we see in the brain can be repaired. But nobody knows that yet.” Snoring happens when a collapse, blockage or restriction to the upper airway obstructs the flow of air through the back of the mouth or nose. The sound is created by the vibration of the soft tissues at the back of the throat.One of the most common cause of snoring is obesity and overweight people have extra bulk around the neck that can restrict their airways. There’s also experimental evidence that abdominal fat pushes the chest up towards the upper airway, which then loses its tension, becoming floppy. Also research shows that drugs such as wine, alcohol, muscle relaxants and sleeping tablets can also cause snoring by making the tongue and muscles in the throat relax, go floppy and vibrate.
Smokers are also more likely to snore than non-smokers. Prof Horne hopes the study will convince more parents to have their children referred for sleep studies before the damage is done. Snoring is a chronic condition, with no cure rather, treatment strategies are based on management of it. Sleep is vital for human health because it allows the body time to recharge, grow and develop, but when sleep is disrupted, such as by snoring, the impact on health can be serious. The most common treatment for problem snoring is surgery to remove the tonsils and adenoids. Adenoids are a section of the throat that cause problems.However the most appropriate treatment for snoring varies according to the severity of snoring, presence of sleep apnoea, age, body-weight, degree of daytime sleepiness, alcohol-consumption, medical history and the anatomy of the upper airway. Snoring can affect the quality of sleep and contribute to morning fatigue and tiredness. There is also increasing evidence that snoring may contribute to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease including high blood pressure and strokes. Some people may experience mild to moderate breathing difficulties during sleep because the snoring causes their airways to become narrowed. The medical term for this is upper airway resistance syndrome. Snoring can also be an indication that Obstructive Sleep Apnoea is present.Snoring is very common and there are many different stated figures for the percentage of the general population who snore. As the incidence, severity and classification of snoring can vary greatly it depends on what level and incidence of snoring was measured for the data. Snoring can be habitual or occasional, mild or severe. The severity and occurrence of snoring can also be positional where it may be worse when lying on the back and better when lying on the side.Full results of the Monash study will be presented at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies meeting in Boston this June.