Alaska Sleep Education Center

How to Tell if Your Child's Snoring is Normal or a Sleep Disorder

Posted by Harry Yuan, D.O. on Jan 17, 2019 6:00:00 AM

Cute little kid sleeping
Children are our most precious resources, and their health and comfort are a top priority for any parent. It comes as no surprise that you may have questions about your child's snoring and sleep habits. Is their snoring normal? Is it harmful? At what point does it become a cause for concern? At The Alaska Sleep Clinic we get asked these kinds of questions all the time, so we compiled a list of the most common causes of snoring, symptoms of potential sleep disorders, and treatment options for your children.

Causes of Snoring in Children

Snoring is the sound caused by vibrations in the upper airways of the respiratory system due to obstructed air movement while sleeping. While your child's gentle snores or little squeaks at night may sound cute, it is possible that their snoring may be a sign of a sleep disorder. Here are a couple of typical causes that could be the source of your child's snoring.

  • Respiratory Infection. If your child has a stuffy nose from a cold or allergies, it is likely that their snoring is caused by blockage in the sinuses. This nasal blockage forces them to breath through their mouth which can lead to snoring.adenoids2
  • Enlarged tonsils and adenoids are a leading cause of snoring in children, and a strong indication of potential obstructive sleep apnea. The swollen glands aid in blocking the airways making it difficult for your child to breath comfortably through the night.  

  • Deviated septum. A deviated septum occurs when the airway of the two nostrils is offset or displaced. This makes breathing through the nose more difficult as one nostril's passage is smaller than the other, reducing airflow and causing difficulty in breathing.

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)- Roughly 3% of children ages 1-9 have Obstructive Sleep Apnea. OSA is a serious condition in which airflow through the upper respiratory system becomes obstructed, making breathing extremely difficult. Children (and adults as well) who suffer from untreated OSA can have many associated health problems.

How Can I Tell if My Child has Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

What to look for at night.

  • Your child snores on a regular basis (3 or more nights per week).

  • Your child's breathing is interrupted by gasps, snorts, or pauses longer than 10 seconds.

  • Interruptions in their breathing often wake them from sleep.

  • They sweat profusely during sleep.

  • They have restless sleep in which they move frequently at night or sleep in abnormal positions with their head in unusual positions; most notably with their head tipped awkwardly back.

  • They frequently wet the bed at night.

What to look for during the day.

  • child sleepy all the timeIf your child seems excessively sleepy during the day it is a good indicator that they didn't get enough sleep the night before due to frequent interruptions and wakings in the middle of the night.

  • If your child is difficult to wake up in the morning it could be an indication that they weren't sleeping restfully at night.

  • If they fall asleep often during the day or habitually daydream.

  • If they have learning, behavioral, or social problems.

  • If they are often irritable, cranky, agitated, or aggressive.

  • If they speak nasally and breath primarily through their mouths.

What Can I Do if My Child Snores? (Remedies)

The most important thing you can do for your child is to observe their daily and nightly habits and report all of your concerns to their pediatrician. Depending on the cause of your child's snoring, your pediatrician may recommend one or more of the following solutions:
  • Remove possible allergen triggers such as: stuffed animals, pets, or feathery down pillows and comforters.

  • Prescribe sinus congestion and allergy medications.

  • Suggest that you elevate your child's head or mattress at night with a special pillow which can help relieve congestion and clear up their nasal passages.

  • Refer you to an Ear Nose and Throat specialist to see if your child's tonsils and adenoids need to be removed.

  • Refer you to a sleep specialist for a possible overnight sleep study to determine if your child suffers from obstructive sleep apnea and learn how OSA can be treated.

If you still have any further questions or concerns regarding your child's snoring or other sleeping habits, feel free to contact the The Alaska sleep Clinic for more information or to schedule an appointment at 855-AKSLEEP (855-257-5337).

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Topics: children, Snoring, OSA in children

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