Snoring is not just an adult thing. According to research, 20 percent of children may snore once in awhile. It also mentions that 7 to 10 percent of them snore every night. Though snoring in children may not always be a cause for the alarm. But parents of children who snore severely should find out if the snoring points to a breathing or sleeping problem.
Three reasons for Snoring in Children-
- The first is because of anatomical factors. Children born with a small airway or a small jaw are more likely to snore.
- Second, the muscles and nerves along the airway do not work properly which causes the snoring.
- And lastly, enlarged tonsils and adenoids are the most common reason for a child to snore.
Most parents take snoring for granted. Some of them may even see it cute or funny. Snoring in children does not always cause serious problems. But parents of children who habitually snore should be concerned and should start finding the real cause and snoring solutions when the quality of their children’s sleep starts getting affected.
Snoring may also have other underlying triggers that may affect the heart and the brain. So it is best to have your child evaluated for this condition. Sleep Apnea is one condition you need to look out for if your child is a habitual snorer.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Snoring may indicate that your child has sleep apnea or upper airway resistance syndrome. Sleep apnea is the condition wherein the airway collapses and closes. Because of this, your child may experience difficulty in breathing. The condition will disrupt your child’s sleep as he/she will be forced to wake multiple times to breathe again.
Upper airway resistance syndrome happens when there is resistance in the air passage, when snoring is requiring too much effort, or when the snoring becomes too loud.
Associated Risk Factors
The risk of sleep apnea may be increased by several factors.
- If your child is obese, the fat in his neck may put a pressure in his airway as he lies down and may cause his snoring.
- Children with allergies are also at a higher risk as the swelling of the lining of their nose can lead to the inflammation of the adenoids. With all of these in action, your child may experience difficulty in breathing through his nose.
- Children with a condition known as hypotonia are also at increased risk. This is because children with hypotonia have relatively weak muscles. When the muscles in their neck become weak, it may be hard for them to breathe in and out during sleep.
- Asthmatic children are also at risk even when these two conditions do not share the same mechanism. Asthma may cause difficulty in breathing which could also increase the risk of sleep apnea.
- And lastly, there is also a high possibility that your child’s sleep apnea is hereditary.
Effects of Sleep Apnea
- Children with sleep apnea suffer from disrupted sleep.
- They do not get enough restful sleep, which in turn leads to irritation and difficulty in concentration during the day.
- Children may also tend to wet their bed as they try so hard to go back to sleep that they do not care even when they feel the need to urinate.
- Disrupted sleep may also induce night terrors and nightmares.
- Poor quality of sleep due to sleep apnea can cause AHDH like symptoms in children.
- In the long run, snoring and lack of sleep may affect your child’s personality.
- Your child may become irritable and he may experience difficulty in concentrating.
- Snoring in children can also impede his learning ability.
- Snoring and resulting lack of oxygen can cause loss of brain cells in children and the loss may be irreversible.
- Episodic periods of awakening and low level of oxygen turn on the nervous system and cause a strain on the heart. This over time can lead to changes in blood pressure and increases chances of adulthood hypertension.
- Disturbed sleep causes an increased craving for fat and sugar which in turn can lead to obesity. Also, lack of sleep makes for a tired child, who is less likely to exercise, and more likely to eat making for a dangerous combination of weight gain which in turn can make the sleep apnea worse.
- Weight gain can also cause other complications like cholesterol problem, pre diabetic condition and increased risk for cardiovascular disease at a much earlier age.
So what’s the Solution for Snoring in Children?
- In children, most common cause of snoring is enlarged tonsils and adenoids. So a visit to an ENT specialist could help things move in right direction.
- In case your child’s snoring has been tied to allergens, then work on eliminating allergens from your home and the surrounding environment. Doing away with stuffed toys, keeping the windows closed during pollen season etc. should help your child breathe better. Also look out for mold and fungus, as they cause severe allergies and results in breathing difficulties.
- Holistic treatment options like Chiropractic help, Acupressure, Acupuncture, and Yoga among other things could also be explored for those not keen on surgery.
- In some cases, orthodontic treatment along with a tonsil removal surgery might be the most effective solution. An ENT will be able to help you and your child make the most appropriate choice in this regards.
- If you have the means and your state has the facilities, then look to book an overnight sleep study for your child. It is a sure shot way of determining if your child suffers from obstructive sleep apnea.
- In some severe cases of sleep apnea, which cannot be remedied by surgery or orthodontic intervention, CPAP and or BIPAP machines might be used.
You can also view this video for tips, on How to Make your baby sleep all night –
A seemingly simple condition, such as snoring, may hinder your child’s ability to grow up happy and healthy. As a parent, you need to be on the lookout for the warning signals. Chronic snoring and sleep apnea can develop at any age in your child, so a non-snoring baby does not guarantee a non-snoring pre-schooler and so on. This does not mean that you need to stay on your toes at your child’s bedside forever, all you need to do is monitor his/her general health and well-being and if something seems amiss then do consider if snoring could be a cause.