Why is Your Child Snoring?
Snoring occurs during sleep when the child is breathing in and there is some obstruction of air passing through the back of the mouth. This causes the noise of vibration in the soft tissue that lines the throat. Short term snoring, as in the case of a cold, is not problematic. But if your child snores every night and seems to have difficulty breathing, he may be facing other problems.
Cold, flu, allergies
When a child is sick, the mucous may block his airway and cause snoring. Allergies can also cause nasal congestion and result in snoring.
Enlarged tonsils and adenoids
Tonsils are lumps of tissues at the back of the throat, and adenoids are lumps of tissues at the back of the nose. They detect bacteria and viruses in the throat and nose respectively and can become infected and swollen as a result. Enlarged tonsils and adenoids can block your child’s breathing passage at night and cause snoring. Younger children between the ages of 2 to 8 could snore because their tonsils and adenoids are too big for their throat.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea
If loud snoring is accompanied with gasps for oxygen or pauses in breathing, the child may be suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). The stoppages of breathing which can last for 10 seconds or more are caused by airway being partially or completely blocked during sleep. This causes the oxygen levels to fall and the brain alerts the body to breathe. The child would then snort or gasp for air, and is aroused from sleep frequently. This result in insufficient quality sleep at night and the child is likely to be sleepy and easily irritable during the day. The common cause of the condition is enlarged tonsils and adenoids, but being obese and having an abnormality in the physical structure of the face or jaw (like cleft palate or a receding chin) can also block the airway and lead to OSA. A sleep study can determine if the child has OSA and its severity.
If chronic OSA is left untreated, a child may be deprived of the vital sleep he needs. Such disturbed sleep can affect everything from behavioural issues to brain development.
OSA may contribute to:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Mouth breathing
- Heart and lung problems
- Behavioural problems
- Learning difficulties in school
If you have any doubts at all, let our ENT specialist Dr YT Pang do some definitive tests. The child could be screened for snoring and a diagnosis to be conducted to determine if the child is experiencing normal primary snoring or obstructive sleep apnoea. Treatment options would then be discussed.