Almost all children snore sometimes, especially when they’re in deep sleep. But about one in 10 kids snores regularly. Does that mean she or he has obstructive sleep apnea — a disorder that shuts off breathing and can lead to daytime fatigue and trouble in school?
Not necessarily. Snoring in kids can have lots of different causes and sleep apnea only affects about 1 to 3 percent of snorers. As ear, nose and throat experts, we at Pediatric ENT Associates, part of Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham, know how important a good night’s sleep is for all kids and for parents, too.
Typical Reasons for Children Snoring
The following are some common causes of snoring and suggested remedies so you and your child can both get a good night’s rest:
If your child tends to have allergies, swollen nasal passages may be obstructing their airflow when they sleep. Wash their bedding in hot water at least once a week. Remove stuffed animals and pillows from the bed at night. If the snoring persists, visit Pediatric ENT Associates for a snoring evaluation.
Colds and Sinus Infections
Mucus from a common cold can block a child’s nose, forcing her to breathe through her mouth. At night, this may result in snoring. Over-the-counter decongestants may give your child relief.
When a stuffed nose persists, it could be a sign of a sinus infection. Your pediatric ENT may treat a sinus infection with antihistamines to relieve sneezing and congestion, or antibiotics to kill bacteria.
Children who have asthma may also snore at night. Research has shown that adults with asthma have a higher risk for obstructive sleep apnea. If your child with asthma snores, she should be evaluated for possible sleep apnea at Pediatric ENT Associates.
Anything that impedes the constant and easy flow of air through your child’s airways at night may cause snoring and may also cause a type of sleep apnea called obstructive sleep apnea. Your child may have obstructive sleep apnea if she is overweight or has one or more of the following anatomic variations that can impede breathing:
- Large neck that shuts down throat during sleep
- Large adenoids or tonsils that block airflow
- Deviated nasal septum that blocks air in one nostril
- Recessed chin that prevents proper air flow
If your child has any of these physical variations or tends to sleep with her mouth open or chin extended, contact the specialists at Pediatric ENT Associates for a sleep apnea evaluation.
Treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea
The specialists at Pediatric ENT Associates are experts at helping your child get the restful sleep she needs. Leaving sleep apnea untreated can put your child at risk for daytime drowsiness and difficulties with concentration and memory that could affect her school performance, too.
Depending on the cause, your specialist at Pediatric ENT Associates in Birmingham may treat obstructive sleep apnea by surgically removing your child’s overly large tonsils or adenoids. In rare cases, your child may need to use a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to facilitate night breathing. Your doctor may also recommend weight loss and other treatments, especially if your child has complicating factors such as Down syndrome. To learn more about sleep apnea, visit medlineplus.gov.
Occasional snoring is normal, but if your child snores consistently and you suspect she may have sleep apnea, contact the board-certified doctors at Pediatric ENT Associates for evaluation and treatment.