Disruptive rumbling snores are most commonly associated with adults. But what if your child is the one who is snoring throughout the night?
Snoring can have negative impacts on an infant or a child. Infants who snore often feed poorly and have troubles gaining weight. They may also be developmentally delayed.
Older children who snore can suffer from behavioural issues, including hyperactivity, aggression, and have trouble learning. Parents may also notice personality, social, and school performance changes. If left untreated, snoring can lead to heart problems and heightened blood pressure in children.
What’s the cause behind the snore?
Not all snores are a cause for concern. For example, if your child has a cold or a blocked nose because of allergies, they may snore because their airways have narrowed temporarily.
Children who continue to snore for a prolonged period may have something known as Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea is different from general snoring in a few ways:
- A child will stop breathing for a prolonged period when they sleep (anywhere from 10 to 60 seconds)
- A child will gasp, choke, or struggle to take in air
- A child regularly breathes through the mouth
- A child is restless and sweaty during sleep
Central Sleep Apnoea is a less common reason why a child may snore. This condition occurs when there is an issue with how the brain controls a child’s breathing.
Why does my child have sleep apnoea?
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea is most often the result of a child having larger than average tonsils and adenoids. Other causes include:
- Shape of a child’s skull
- Size of the tongue
- Previous surgery for cleft palate
- Small or receding jaw
How can sleep apnoea be diagnosed?
If you are concerned about your child’s snoring, the first step is to make an appointment with your child’s doctor. The doctor will look into your child’s throat to assess the size of the adenoids and tonsils. You may also receive a referral for your child to visit an ear, nose, and throat specialist.
In some situations, your doctor may suggest that you use an oximeter while your child sleeps. This device is able to measure your child’s oxygen levels while they sleep and pinpoint periods when your child stops breathing.
Depending on the outcome of the above assessments, your child may be involved in what is known as a “sleep study”. During this study, your child will have fine wires attached to their skin. These wires are connected to a computer which measures their sleep, breathing, and oxygen levels.
How is snoring treated in children?
If the cause behind your child’s snoring is believed to be due to having large tonsils or adenoids, your doctor will likely recommend having them removed. In most cases, this will prevent your child from snoring in the future.
If the snoring is thought to be the cause of a facial abnormality, surgery may be suggested. Alternatively, your doctor may recommend that your child uses a Continuous Positive Airways Pressure (CPAP) machine. This device involves a mask worn over the nose which helps keep your child’s airway open as they sleep.
Finally, having a regular bedtime routine for your child will go a long way in helping them enjoy a restful night’s sleep. Help your child avoid engaging with anything overly stimulating (like video games and television) at least half an hour before bedtime, don’t feed them foods with sugar or caffeine hours before rest, and keep their bedrooms cool, dark, and quiet.