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Snoring in Children - Causes and Problems

A child's gentle snore can mean a peaceful sleep, but snoring in children, especially loud and constant snoring, can lead to all sorts of problems. It's common for most people, even children, to snore on occasion. Excessive snoring, however, will prevent restful sleep and can disrupt the child's daytime activities.

Most people are familiar with the snoring noise, but maybe not the underlying causes. Snoring is usually caused by the airway at the back of the throat being blocked. Air trying to pass through the obstruction causes the structures to vibrate enough to produce sound. Generally speaking, the more air that's passing through, the more vibration is produced, resulting in louder snoring.

There are many things that can contribute to snoring in children. Something as simple as a respiratory infection or allergies can lead an increase in snoring. Studies have proven, however, that the most common reason that children snore is enlarged tonsils and adenoids. A child's tonsils are very large in relation to the other structures around it, and this can block the airway, especially when a child is asleep.

A lack of sleep is evident for adults, but is often misdiagnosed in children. After a poor night's sleep, children are apt to be irritable and have trouble paying attention in school. If this happens often enough, sometimes a child may be thought to be hyperactive, or even be exhibiting signs of an attention deficit disorder. A solution to snoring should be sought out.

It's thought that about ten percent of children snore excessively, and of those, two to three percent may have a condition called sleep apnea. This occurs when muscles relax so much that the airway is blocked enough to restrict air flow for a period of time. When this happens, the brain signals the body to start breathing again, often resulting in gasping and choking. This disrupts restful sleep, and can lead to other medical conditions that could be serious.

Sleep apnea can often go undetected. Signs your child may have this condition include regular and heavy snoring, gasping and snorting noises while sleeping, and sometimes sweating a great deal during the night. Parents should try to be aware of these signs, as sleep apnea may cause other developmental issues, such as cardiovascular problems. The good news is that this condition is treatable.

You can also look for signs of sleep apnea in children during the day. Difficulty in waking the child in the morning, irritability, poor performance in school, and excessive tiredness can all be signs that something is disrupting your child's sleep.

While at times thought to be amusing and even cute, snoring in children, especially loud snoring that happens frequently, can have some consequences. If snoring is causing your child to wake in the middle of the night, or if you see some signs that may indicate excessive tiredness, it's a good idea to mention child snoring to your pediatrician. There are ways to treat this condition to help stop snoring but an accurate diagnosis should be the first step. Restful sleep is essential for good health.