A healthy mind has an easy breath.
It was several years ago. We just moved to our new office and our patients were showing up to say “hi” and see our new place. Among them was my patient “E” with his mom. They stopped by with a bouquet of flowers to chat for a couple minutes – perhaps a while longer. “E” got used to it and was always very patient. To acknowledge his presence, proper demeanor, and good manners I approached him and tried to involve him in our conversation. But profession is profession.
“Is he sick?” I asked the mom.
“No, he is fine,” she replied.
“Are you sure?” I insisted.
She was sure. At this point, I feel the need to mention that, usually conversation in my office goes the other way around: anxious parents ask the questions and I answer them trying to comfort and reassure them. It seemed like the direction of this conversation puzzled the mom as well. “Why do you ask? Does he sound different than usual?”
In a way she was right. He always sounded pretty much the same to me. Being an overall healthy boy he would be brought to me only with bad colds or an occasional sore throat. Then he would sound congested, not breathing through his nose with his mouth open. It was normal. He was sick. This time something wasn’t right. He sounded congested… but he wasn’t sick.
I decided to push further, “Does he snore?”
The response was, “Oh, big time!”
Two weeks later he had a surgery: his adenoids were removed, treatment of the nose initiated. His parents couldn’t believe that there was no more snoring, his speech sounded different, and his mouth was open only for eating and talking!
Trust me: these were very good parents. They loved their child dearly (and still do) and they wanted the best for him. They were used to seeing and hearing him that way every day and they didn’t know that a healthy child shouldn’t snore. It is OK (I guess) for some adults, but definitely not OK for kids – take my word for it.
When the child doesn’t breathe through the nose, which is designed mostly for breathing, certain physiologic processes do not go right. Among them – inadequate aeration of the brain during the sleep, low energy level, fatigue and poor attention in school. Also, teeth get affected with excessive oxygen coming though the mouth; tonsils get bigger when the mouth is open most of the time. Even the structure of the skull and the face features change. Did I convince you?
If something of what you just read sounds familiar, please bring it to my attention. There are so many things we can fix to make our children happier! Let’s do it.