Does Your Child Snore? Learn Why & What You Can Do to Help
While we usually associate snoring with older adults, many kids also snore. There are different reasons for a child snoring and coughing at night. Some of those reasons make it happen only from time to time, while others cause it to last longer. If your child snores now and then, it's usually not a big deal. But if it happens a lot or is really loud, it might mean they have trouble breathing during sleep. Learning about the different types, reasons, and ways to treat snoring in kids can help parents take better care of their children's health and improve their sleep.
Types of Child Snoring
Not all kids' snoring is the same. It may differ in how often it happens, how loud it is, and how it affects them. Usually, snoring in kids is not a big deal and doesn't really bother their sleep or health. In fact, light, occasional snoring is seen in about 27% of kids. This type of snoring, which is not very loud and happens from time to time, usually isn't a big health worry.
However, if snoring happens a lot and keeps them awake, it might mean they have a problem with their breathing during sleep called sleep-disordered breathing (SDB). SDB can be more or less serious. On one side, there's primary snoring, which means a child snores more than twice a week but doesn't have any other noticeable issues or health problems. Among children diagnosed with sleep-disordered breathing, which includes snoring, about 70% are found to have primary snoring.
On the other side, there's something called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In OSA, a child's breath stops and starts many times during the night because their airway gets blocked. This can lead to disrupted sleep and have negative effects on their physical health, mental health, learning, and behavior. Research suggests that approximately 1.2% to 5.7% of kids have obstructive sleep apnea.
Research shows that a lack of adequate sleep in the first 24 months of a child's life can cause physical and cognitive developmental problems in the future. The Invidyo Baby Monitor allows you to enter your child's sleep information easily with just a few clicks. You can then use their intuitive graphs to keep tabs on your child's sleep patterns and make sure that they are getting enough sleep. It's equipped with a wide-angle HD camera plus night vision and remote adjustments so you can check on your baby at any time. You'll also receive alerts to let you know what's going on, even while you're not watching the monitor.
Possible Reasons Why My Child Is Snoring
Snoring occurs when air can't flow freely through the throat's back passage. When someone breathes in or out, the surrounding tissue vibrates, making noise. Many things can block this airway and cause snoring in children. The main reasons kids snore include the following:
- Large or swollen tonsils and adenoids: These immune system parts near the back of the throat can become too big or swell due to infections, obstructing the airway and causing snoring. This is the most common cause of snoring in kids.
- Being overweight: Studies show that overweight children are more likely to snore. Extra weight can narrow the airway and increase the risk of sleep-disordered breathing, like obstructive sleep apnea.
- Physical traits: Some people have features that make it harder to breathe while sleeping. For example, a deviated septum, where the nostrils aren't equally separated, can lead to mouth-breathing and snoring.
- Allergies: Allergy flare-ups can inflame the nose and throat, making it harder to breathe and increasing the risk of snoring.
- Asthma: Like allergies, asthma can affect normal breathing and, if it partially blocks the airway, can lead to snoring.
- Congestion: Cold symptoms can lead to congestion, blocking smooth airflow. Infections can also inflame tonsils and adenoids.
- Air quality: Poor air quality or too many contaminants can challenge normal breathing and affect a child's chances of snoring often.
- Secondhand smoke: Being around secondhand smoke can affect breathing and is linked to a higher risk of snoring in children.
- Shorter breastfeeding duration: Research has found a connection between snoring in children and less breastfeeding. The exact reason isn't clear, but breastfeeding might help the upper airway develop in a way that reduces the likelihood of snoring.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is another significant risk factor for snoring in kids. Children with OSA typically snore and may have gasping pauses in their breathing. However, not all snoring children have OSA.
How to Stop a Child From Snoring
Most of the time, occasional snoring in children will go away without any special treatment. Even kids who snore regularly might see their snoring stop on its own. But in some cases, it's important to take steps to prevent sleep problems in children. Here are a few child snoring solutions you may want to consider:
Consult a physician.
To start tackling a child's snoring, it's a good idea to talk to their doctor. Many pediatricians will ask about snoring, but parents should also share their concerns openly. The doctor can check for signs of more serious sleep problems or other things like asthma or allergies that might be making the snoring worse. They might suggest more tests, like a sleep study overnight, to see if it's obstructive sleep apnea. Getting a clear diagnosis is the best way to figure out how to reduce snoring, and the doctor can explain the pros and cons of different treatment choices.
Undergo surgery, if necessary.
One of the main ways to treat sleep problems in kids is by doing surgery to remove their tonsils and adenoids. This surgery is called adenotonsillectomy. It's usually done for kids with serious sleep apnea, but in some cases, it might be an option for those who snore a lot. The surgery gets rid of the tissue that often blocks the airway. This can help lessen snoring and those moments when they stop breathing at night.
Try a PAP device.
A positive airway pressure (PAP) device is a machine that sends air with pressure through a mask into a person's mouth and airway. This helps prevent any blockages in the air passage. These devices come in two types: continuous (CPAP) or bi-level (BiPAP), depending on how they control the airflow. While PAP machines are often used to treat sleep apnea in adults, in children, they are mostly used if the sleep apnea doesn't go away even after having surgery to remove the tonsils and adenoids.
Improve sleep habits.
You can help kids sleep better by improving their bedtime routine and sleep environment. This is called sleep hygiene and includes their habits before sleep and the conditions in their bedroom. Some ways to make sleep better for children are keeping a regular bedtime, reducing exposure to light and screens before sleep, and making their bedroom as peaceful and comfy as possible. Even though these steps might seem more like “child snoring home remedies” than medical treatments, they can be helpful. For kids who snore, research shows that having bad sleep habits can make their sleep even more disrupted. This can cause problems with their behavior, thinking, and health.
Snoring in children is a common occurrence, with varying degrees of frequency and severity. Factors such as swollen tonsils, congestion, anatomical characteristics, and air quality can contribute to this phenomenon. Parents and other caregivers should understand that childhood snoring can affect sleep quality and potentially lead to severe health issues, depending on its severity. If you have concerns about your child's snoring, talk to your pediatrician and keep an eye out for signs of breathing-related conditions.
Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. Please contact your health provider if you have any medical questions or concerns about your child or yourself.
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