We all know adults that snore, but snoring in children is common, too. According to the National Sleep Association, most children snore occasionally, and approximately ten percent of children snore almost every night. But just because snoring is common doesn’t mean it’s normal! If your child snores, it’s important to understand why they’re making all that noise.
Snoring occurs when tissues in the upper airway vibrate because air flow is obstructed in some way. If your child snores occasionally because of a temporary condition (like a cold) there’s usually no need to worry. If your child snores three or four nights a week it’s time to find out why. Chronic snoring can have a profound impact on the quality of your child’s sleep and effect their health and development.
The most common reasons for snoring are:
1. Infections – Upper respiratory infections are the most common reason for occasional snoring in children. A stuffy or blocked nose makes it difficult to take in air and the extra effort can create a vacuum in the throat.
2. Allergies –Environmental allergies and food allergies can cause congestion and inflammation of the tissues in the upper airway.
3. Low muscle tone – When muscles of the tongue and throat are too relaxed they can collapse in and block the airway.
4. Anatomy –A deviated septum, bone structure of the face and jaw or a high/elongated palate can impact your child’s ability to breathe freely, especially when sleeping.
5. Enlarged tonsils and adenoids – Tonsils are two areas of lymphoid tissue located on either side of the throat. Adenoids are located behind the palate where the nasal passages connect with the throat. If they are naturally large (which is sometimes the case) or enlarged due to infections, allergies, or reflux, they can narrow or block the airway.
6. Obesity – Fatty tissue in the throat can narrow or block the airway.
7. Obstructive Sleep Apnea – Approximately 2 to 4 percent of children that snore have OSA. Children with OSA have long pauses in breathing and/or a significant decrease in airflow and oxygen levels throughout the night.
If your child snores more than 2 or 3 nights a week, speak to your pediatrician. Observe your child and report any of the following symptoms:
- Gasps, snorts and pauses in breathing
- Restless sleep (child moves all around the bed/tosses and turns frequently)
- Full body sweating while sleeping
- Unusual sleeping positions (including neck arching or head hanging off of the bed)
- Frequent bedwetting (after successful potty training) or extremely soaked through diapers
- Chronic respiratory or ear infections
- Difficulty waking up in the morning
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Mouth breathing/nasal speaking voice
- Difficulty concentrating
- Complaints of morning headaches (if your child is old enough to tell you)