Is it Normal for child to snore?
The short answer is no, and neither should you! Frequent snoring in children should be very concerning.
Aside from the brief periods of time when your child has a cold, which may block the nasal passage ways, snoring that occurs frequently is abnormal and should be evaluated.
Primary snoring happens when
something is blocking the air from passing through the back of your child’s throat, causing a vibration. And it can cause your child to sleep poorly, which can lead to decreased focus and concentration, lowered IQ scores, behavioral issues and even hyperactivity.
Primary snoring can be caused by many different things, but in kids the most common causes are:
- Enlarged tonsils and adenoids,
- Tongue tie,
- Blocked nasal breathing from enlarged turbinates (the inner lining of the nasal path)
- Allergies, or a deviated septum.
- It can also be due to narrowing of the airway based on how your child’s airway is shaped, or from weight gain.
About 10-20% of kids snore on a regular basis.
How do you tell the difference between primary snoring and sleep apnea?
First, I’d like to be clear that primary snoring, regardless of the presence of apnea or not, is a cause for more investigation. But obstructive sleep apnea is the more concerning of the two conditions. Here are some warning signs that may indicate your child has obstructive sleep apnea:
- Gasping or snorting along with snoring, and pauses in breathing.
- Sleeping in abnormal positions
- Snoring loudly and/or often
- Sweating during sleep
- Bad grades in school
- Sleeping restlessly
- Difficulty waking in the morning, even after a long time in bed
- Hyperactivity, trouble concentrating, possible ADHD diagnosis
So what can be done?
Depending on a child’s age, sometimes “watchful waiting” is recommended for a short period of time, especially for older children (not younger children), because a child’s tonsils and adenoids get larger until age six or seven years of age and then slowly get smaller over time.
Some children who snore as a result of a nasal obstruction like allergies may benefit from a nasal steroid, an antihistamine, or even salt water nasal rinses.
For 10% of children who snore, the snoring can be a sign of a more serious problem, like obstructive sleep apnea. This is an important differentiation to make, because sleep apnea can cause pauses in breathing or periods of decreased airflow in and out, which can subsequently contribute to drops in oxygen or arousals during sleep. And it can have long-term consequences if left untreated, like problems at school, delayed growth, high blood pressure, and even heart failure in some rare cases.
The good news
is that studies have shown that learning, heart and lung problems related to a child’s snoring or obstructive sleep apnea are reversible.
Participating in a sleep study in a sleep study is the only way to definitively determine whether or not you or your child have sleep apnea. While some sleep apnea can be managed with medications and lifestyle changes, other children may need surgery – often tonsil removal and palatal expansion with orthodontics (braces) – to fix the problem.
Others may require CPAP to fully treat obstructive sleep apnea.
Please contact our office at (858)578-0120 if you would like more information about this.