Snoring is the harsh, loud and disrupting sound made when air flows past relaxed throat tissues, causing the them to vibrate when breathing. Snoring is often thought to only afflict older men, but in fact, nearly half of all adults snore occasionally. Nearly 40 percent of adult men and 24 percent of adult women snore habitually. More so, 10 percent of children snore regularly with 2-4 percent suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This is a more serious condition, where breathing stops for 10 or more seconds at a time during sleep.
While snoring in children is typically not dangerous, it can have serious health consequences, including behavioral issues.
What Causes Snoring in Children?
Some conditions that can create blockages in a child’s airway, leading to snoring, include large or swollen tonsils and adenoids, throat infections, obesity, congestion, asthma, and a deviated septum.
When Should You Be Concerned?
When a child is experiencing sleep-disordered breathing, the natural rest and restorative benefits of sleep are disrupted, thus reducing the physical and mental well-being of the child. This disruption can lead to hyperactivity, or excessive tiredness during the day, learning difficulties and poor school performance, delayed or stunted growth, obesity, high blood pressure, and behavioral issues including ADD/ADHD.
These “red flags” in sleep behaviors are indicators of a potential serious breathing problem: the child snores most nights, the snoring is very noisy, the child generally sleeps with his/her mouth open with the chin or neck extended, and the child pauses or gasps while sleeping.
Common Treatments for Snoring in Children
After observing these sleep patterns and behavioral issues in children, a concerned parent or guardian should consult with a specialist that can treat the sleep problem. Treatments have often included removing the tonsils and adenoids to open the airway, providing a positive airway pressure device, installing braces, or providing an oral appliance. The oral appliance holds the child’s bottom jaw and tongue forward to open the airway temporarily, while sleeping.