Many if not most children sometimes snore and of course the problem worsens with age. There are not many adults who never snore. About 1 in 10 children snore most nights.
Snoring is a noise that occurs during sleep when the child is breathing in or out that causes vibration of the soft tissue of the palette. The loudness is affected by how much air is passing through and how fast the throat tissue is vibrating. Children who are three years or older tend to snore during the deeper stages of sleep. Primary snoring is defined as snoring that is not associated with more serious problems.
About one to three percent of children snore and also suffer from breathing problems during their sleep. Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome is accompanied by gasps or pauses in breathing and can be very dangerous. Sleep apnea interferes with breathing, causing a pause in breathing that can last only a few seconds or as long as a minute. When this happens the brain is then alerted and signals the body to make an effort to start breathing again. This effort results in the child waking up and starting to breathe again and this causes a gasping sound. If your child has sleep apnea they may not get enough quality sleep and are likely to be sleepy during the day.
If your child snores while sleeping, it is important to understand the causes so that you can make good choices about how to help them.
Adenoids are glands located near the nasal passage, whereas tonsils are located at the anterior part of the mouth, at the opening of the throat. Sometimes, the adenoids or tonsils get swollen, and this may lead to snoring. Many children have chronically inflamed adenoids and tonsils.
Many children are allergic to pollen, which causes a blocked nose, filled with mucus, making it difficult for the child to breathe.
Another cause of blocked airways is a sinus infection or cold. This blockage causes a rattling noise while your child breathes.
The nasal septum is the cartilage and tissue that separate the two nostrils. Some children are born with a crooked nasal septum that makes one nostril smaller than the other.
Being overweight causes the nasal air passages to narrow. This is easy to spot but you may need help in changing your child’s eating and exercise habits.
Children who have asthma usually have inflamed nasal passages that make it difficult for them to breathe while sleeping, which could result in snoring.
When you smoke, you expose your child to secondhand smoke. Not only is this smoke harmful to your child, but it can irritate the nasal passages again causing a blockage.
If your child snores while sleeping and you notice other symptoms like sleepiness during the day, poor performance at school, and sudden bed-wetting, your child requires treatment. However, it is important to find the cause of the issue. Once the doctor finds the cause, he will suggest the most appropriate treatment or solution for the snoring.
If your child snores due to enlarged adenoids or tonsils, you can opt for surgical removal of these glands. With the glands gone, there will be no obstruction and your child can breathe properly while sleeping. This, in turn, will stop the snoring.
The doctor will also recommend surgery if your little one has a structure problem with his jaw, face or throat. This surgery is different from the one undertaken for adenoids and tonsils.
In case the doctor finds a structural problem with the jaw, he may recommend using an orthodontic first. Surgery is not always the first line of treatment for such problems. Your child would have to wear a customized mouthpiece while sleeping. The mouthpiece holds the lower jaw in a forward position so that it does not obstruct breathing.
Sometimes after surgical removal of tonsils and adenoids, if your child still has residual snoring and sleep apnea, the doctor suggests wearing an orthodontic to eliminate the problem.
One of the solutions for snoring in children is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure or CPAP. It is useful for treating sleep apnea and sleep-related breathing problems in children. Usually, doctors recommend auto CPAP for children, as the pump automatically detects abnormal breathing events and adjusts air pressure accordingly.
CPAP treatment involves your child wearing a nasal or face masking while sleeping. This mask connects to a pump, which provides positive airflow into the nasal passages, thereby keeping the airways open.
In case your child is overweight or obese, the doctor will suggest exercises or a diet change to reduce your child’s weight. The exercise also makes the throat and neck muscles strong. The strengthened throat muscles help treat sleep apnea brought on by your child’s not-so-ideal weight.
When your little one snorts and snores in his sleep, you may find it cute. However, if your child’s snoring is due to sleep apnea, you shouldn’t take it lightly. Obstructive sleep apnea can cause many short-term and long-term complications.
There are lots of strategies that you can use to help prevent snoring. Try some of the following if you have concerns.
Place a large pillow under your child’s shoulders and head. This elevated position of the head and shoulders prevents nasal congestion, which causes snoring.
Usually, children who sleep on their back tend to snore, as the uvula relaxes at the back of the throat, obstructing the free flow of air. Turn your child on his sides. It may alleviate the snoring.
You can get nose strips from a local pharmacy or drugstore. This is an adhesive string that sticks to the nose and reduces snoring. It is often recommended for kids with mild deviated nasal septum.
You can even use home remedies to help with your child’s snoring. Though these home remedies use natural ingredients, it is best you consult your pediatrician first, especially if your child is taking prescription medications.
Peppermint oil has anti-inflammatory properties and can ease the swelling of the nasal lining. Take some oil and just rub at under the nostrils. It will ease the congestion and help reduce the inflammation, making it easier for your child to breathe without snoring.
This traditional home remedy for snoring calms your child and also ensures he has a restful sleep. Thyme essential oil has antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-parasitic properties. It helps with children who snore due to sinus infections and cold.
Eucalyptus oil can clear air passages and remove mucus from the nose. It also is an anti-inflammatory agent.
Mint is replete with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that benefit your child. It also contains menthol that can decongest the nose and throat and get rid of the mucus.
Ginger has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. It also increases production of saliva that lubricates the throat tissues, preventing your child from snoring.
Exercising the throat and tongue muscles can help stop snoring. This will make the muscles stronger and prevent them from collapsing backward and alleviating any blockages.
There are many sorts of exercises to help with this but most involve pressing the tongue on to the front sides and top and bottom of the mouth and saying various sounds.
Singing is a natural way to exercise the throat and tongue muscles. Encourage singing and enjoy the music!