Occasional snoring may be normal to children. Recent studies show that 3 to 12 percent of children between the age of 1 and 9 snore. But frequency doesn’t mean normality. Habitual snoring can be a cause of a more serious medical condition called obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) or simply, sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a condition characterized by loud snoring with periods of breathing interruptions. Interruptions may be short or prolonged, usually between 5 to 30 seconds. During this period, the child’s could not get straight sleep. He rouses and moves to another sleeping position, then resumes sleep. After a while he will once again begin snoring. This activity often happens several times during the night, each night. Although this condition rarely appears on children, it is very important that parents should watch out for symptoms that come along with it.
Symptoms of sleep apnea include
• Poor speech habits – talking that sounds like words over a mouthful of hot potato.
• Reduced growth rate. Children suffering from sleep apnea use more energy in breathing during the night. During meals, they tend to eat slowly since it is hard for them to breathe and chew at the same time. The result is, they have insufficient nutrients to support their growth.
• Hyperactivity. Lack of sleep can cause drowsiness on children during the day. To stay awake, children act frantically.
• Poor performance in school. Since children do not get the right sleep during the night, they tend to appear tired and lack the concentration to focus at school, thus, having a poor performance.
When these symptoms are visible, it is imperative for parents to bring their child to a pediatrician and have him examined. A child can be happy and smiling when he is brought to the doctor and therefore, it is difficult to diagnose if he really has sleep apnea. Parents are advised to record their child’s snoring so that the doctor can analyze the situation in actually.
Meanwhile, sleep apnea is not the sole reason why children snore. Other reasons include allergy attack, obesity, asthma, and enlargement of adenoids and/or tonsils caused by cold or tonsillitis.
Some allergy attacks can cause swelling on the linings of the nose that can direct to the enlargement of adenoids. This keeps the child from breathing normally. This causes the child to snore. After the allergy attack, the snoring stops.
Obesity can also lead to snoring. In fact, 20% and 40% of the obese children snore. This is because fats can form around the throat that can cause constriction and makes the limited airways. Also, fats in the stomach can cause the diaphragm to function irregularly
Asthma is said to be another cause why children snore. A study revealed that 40% of the children diagnosed with asthma snore.
Enlargement of adenoids and/or tonsils caused by cold or tonsillitis also results to snoring. While cold or tonsillitis can be cured by decongestant and antibiotics, adenoid enlargement is treated by surgical procedure to remove adenoids and tonsils.
Underdevelopment of the jaw inside the womb can cause snoring as well. There is also the possibility that the nerves and the muscles cannot control the airway properly and cause that child to snore.