This is a frequent parental concern in my office:
My 5 year old has always snored so loudly that we can hear him in the other room. He is otherwise healthy and does not get frequent infections. What percentage of children snore? What is sleep apnea? Do we need to worry if our child snores?
1. Do other children snore?
About 10 % of children snore on most nights and respiratory infection, seasonal allergies, obesity, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD, asthma or positioning can all be contributors. The most common physical component of snoring is enlarged tonsils.
2. What is obstructive sleep apnea?
Loud and regular snoring can be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS). If your child’s snoring is punctuated with gasps, snorts and pauses in breathing, he or she may have OSAS. The child’s muscles relax so much during sleep that breathing is partially obstructed causing the brain to send a signal to the body to start breathing again. This results in gasps and snorts that start the child breathing again. These frequent partial wake ups can disturb the sleep cycle and cause the child to be tired during the day resulting in general sleepiness, developmental delays, learning problems or ADHD like symptoms. The persistent snoring can also result in physiologic problems like delayed growth and cardiovascular issues.
•Discuss any snoring in your children with your pediatrician especially loud, persistent snoring. Your pediatrician may want your child to see an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor) or to have a sleep study do figure out if any intervention is necessary. The most common interventions for OSAS are removal of tonsils and/or adenoids or an apparatus that uses mild air pressure to keep the airways open during sleep. Remember, not all children who have OSAS will need surgery.