Is Snoring Dangerous for Young Kids?
For the most part, snoring is part of life. Your partner might snore, or maybe you know someone who snores so loudly that they wake themselves up! Usually, it’s nothing to worry about.
But is it normal for young kids?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, most children snore sometimes, but only 10% snore consistently (compared to 30-40% of adults). Snoring is caused by an obstruction in the mouth or nose during sleep. In adults, it happens when you sleep in an awkward position and cause narrowing of your airway, or it can be due to abnormalities in the soft tissue of the throat. Snoring is less common in kids; here are a few reasons for it:
Enlarged tonsils and adenoids
Most of these are minor conditions that will pass, but if your child snores consistently, it could be a sign of a more serious issue like sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea affects about 3% of children age 1-9. In 2002, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that all children be screened for snoring to determine whether it is associated with sleep apnea.
1-3% of children suffer some sort of breathing problem when they sleep. If snoring is accompanied by gasps or pauses in breathing, it may indicate sleep apnea. This occurs when kid’s muscles become too relaxed and the airway becomes obstructed, which impacts normal breathing. The child experiences a short pause that can range from a few seconds to a full minute until the brain alerts the body that it’s not breathing properly and the child will gasp and start to breathe again.
As you can imagine, this is tiring on a body. The frequent waking can negatively affect sleep quality, which results in grumpy kids who find it difficult to concentrate. Children who have difficulty concentrating are likely to have learning problems.
Fortunately, there are treatments for sleep apnea. Simply removing the child’s tonsils or adenoids can often resolve the issue. In more severe cases, kids might need a machine to help keep the airway open by blowing air into their noses. (Not as scary as it sounds! It’s just a mask that goes over the nose, or the mouth and nose.)
If your child does snore regularly, don’t freak out! Just talk to your child’s doctor to rule out underlying conditions and allow for early treatment. Treating a breathing disorder early will help ensure a lifetime of quiet nights (at least regarding the snoring!).