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Sleep Breathing Disorders

Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea are two of the more common sleep breathing disorders which are characterized by the body's inability to breathe properly while asleep. Sleep breathing disorders are widespread and can be very detrimental to your health. They might even cause a heart attack, stroke or even death.

Just look at the following statistics to see how dangerous sleep breathing disorders can be:

  • 1 in 4 Americans suffer with sleep disordered breathing
  • 75% of those with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) also have high blood pressure

  • Men with severe obstructive sleep apnea are 3 times more likely to have a stroke than men without OSA

  • 34% of diabetics have mild sleep apnea; 19% have moderate sleep apnea; and 10% have severe sleep apnea

  • 30% of pregnant women snore; 10% of these women develop pre-eclampsia while pregnant and 14% develop high blood pressure

  • 1-4% of children suffer from sleep breathing disorders and 3-12% of children are habitual snorer

  • Children with sleep breathing disorders require 226% more healthcare than children who don't suffer from sleep breathing disorders

  • IQ scores, attention span and memory skills in children with sleep breathing disorders are lower compared to children without these breathing problems

What Exactly Are Sleep Breathing Disorders?

Sleep breathing disorders are breathing problems that occur while you sleep. There's a spectrum of disorders starting with mild snoring to obstructive sleep apnea. As you fall asleep, your airway relaxes and might collapse itself, creating an obstruction that produces a sleep breathing disorder. On one end of the spectrum, mild, intermittent snoring might occur. On the other end of this spectrum, there might be total airway obstruction, which produces obstructive sleep apnea.

(Thanks to Dr. Jennifer Krahe for much of this material)

What About Just Snoring

Who Snores? Were you aware that over 44% of American adults snore occasionally and over 24% snore regularly? Snoring itself is at most just a nuisance to your spouse or others in the room. However, snoring may be an indication of more serious, even life-threatening conditions.

Table 1: Snoring Incidence Levels in U.S. Population

Households With a snorer Male head of household Female head of household
Snores regularly 34% 27%


Snores occasion. 44% 28% 27%
Total snoring 78% 55% 40%

Did you notice that at least 78% of America adults snore occasionally or on a regular basis? Chronic snoring may be an indication of a very serious disorder termed obstructive sleep apnea. If any of these numbers make sense to you, make a consultation appointment with Dr. Shankland.

What About Children?

The Stanford School of Medicine states that about 10% of children 10 years of age and younger snore and, of those children who snore, about 20% will have obstructive sleep apnea.

Snoring can be a sign that your child has sleep apnea as it indicates, at the very least, that their airway is partially obstructed during sleep. Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that can interrupt or stop your child's breathing, prevent a normal night's sleep, impair growth, and lead to a lower quality of life. It also can cause serious fatigue during the day which is why it is so often confused with ADHD.

Sleep-disordered breathing such as snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have long been associated with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). You should know that not every child diagnosed with sleep apnea has ADHD, just as not every child diagnosed with ADHD has sleep apnea. However, many studies have been performed indicating a significant correlation between OSA and behavioral issues. Children with obstructive sleep apnea do not get restful sleep, and as a result may complain of morning headaches, be irritable and have difficulty concentrating.

Children with sleep apnea may complain of being tired during the day and, at the same time, exhibit hyperactive behavior or act impulsively. Herein lays the confusion of separating sleep apnea from ADHD because many of the classic symptoms of ADHD are often exhibited in children with OSA. So, if you're a parent of a child diagnosed with ADHD, what do you do?

Dig a little deeper into the root of what may be causing these behaviors. Watch your child sleep at night – and even record it if you can. Check for restlessness, mouth breathing, snoring, or breathing pauses. If they occur, have your child evaluated for possible sleep apnea to ensure the proper diagnosis and treatment.

Figuring out if your child has sleep apnea or ADHD may seem quite complex but it doesn't have to be. Consult with Dr. Shankland if you can answer 'yes' to any or some of the following questions:

  • Does your child snore?ight or is it a restless sleep?

  • Does your child stop breathing for a few seconds at night?

  • Does your child frequently mouth breathe?

  • Does your child sleep through the night or is it a restless sleep?

  • Is there frequent bed wetting?

  • Does your child seem irritable during the day? Is there difficulty focusing? Are there periods of hyperactivity?

(Thanks to Dr. Lana B. Patitucci of The Pennsylvania Snoring and Sleep Institute, for this information about OSA and ADHD)