All of us snore at some point; however, when snoring is severe and frequent, it can indicate that there is an underlying problem that requires treatment. Why do children snore? Is your child’s snoring normal, or is it problematic? Should you take your child to see an ear nose throat (ENT) specialist? Here, we’ll take a closer look at children’s snoring, answer these common questions, and discuss treatment options.
Why Children Snore
If something is blocking or partially blocking airflow, snoring can occur. It normally happens when your child is asleep, simply because of positioning and because of his or her relaxed state. When tissues in the airway come into contact with one another, the air flowing back and forth causes them to vibrate. Some common causes of snoring include airway obstructions such as congestion, enlarged adenoids, tonsillitis, and sinus problems.
A small percentage of children suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, in which the blockage is so severe that breathing actually stops. The main cause of this problem is enlarged adenoids and tonsils. Another cause is a naturally short airway; children with Pierre Robin Syndrome and Down’s Syndrome sometimes snore because of airway abnormalities. Childhood obesity can also cause excessive snoring, as fat in the throat area shifts during sleep and can cause airway obstruction – this is one more reason to ensure your child eats a healthy diet and gets plenty of exercises!
When snoring is severe, it can cause sleep disruption; in addition, it can lead to mood swings, learning deficits, depression, bedwetting, and ADHD. In some cases, it can contribute to developmental delays, as well.
Identifying the Cause of Your Child’s Snoring
To properly identify the cause of your child’s snoring, he or she should be examined by an ENT specialist as soon as possible. Ear nose throat specialists can normally determine whether enlarged adenoids or tonsils are causing your child to snore, and they can rule out blockages, as well. If the tonsils and other anatomical structures within the child’s airway appear to be of normal size and are not suspected to be behind the snoring, the ENT may recommend a sleep study to determine whether sleep apnea is present; in addition, your child’s ENT will be able to rule out cysts or tumors which are rare but which do occur in some children.
If your child is overweight and you suspect that may be the cause of the snoring, do work on healthy eating and exercise; however, do not let that stop you from seeing a specialist. There could be more than one factor behind your child’s snoring problem. Children with sleep apnea stop physically breathing for short periods of time while they are asleep – often for ten seconds or longer. When a child stops breathing, blood flow to the heart and brain is stopped, which can contribute to left-sided heart failure if left undiagnosed and untreated.
Treatment for Children’s Snoring
Your child’s ear nose throat specialist will provide a thorough examination of the throat, palate, mouth, nose, and neck to determine what is causing the snoring, and to determine which course of treatment to take. The examination should be able to reveal whether the snoring is being caused by deformity, enlarged tonsils or adenoids, nasal allergy, chronic infection, or some other problem. Once the cause of the snoring has been identified, the ENT specialist will recommend the appropriate treatment.
Today’s surgeries to cure children’s snoring are much less invasive than surgery once was. Laser-assisted surgery reduces pain and swelling, and in some cases a procedure called radiofrequency ablation, which uses a needle to shrink tissues, are some of the newest methods for treating snoring. The child’s adenoids and tonsils may also need to be removed. With the help of a knowledgeable ear nose throat specialist, children’s snoring can be stopped – allowing you and your child to sleep better.