Child Sleeping

There’s nothing sweeter than a sleeping child. But if your little one snores, you may be wondering if it’s normal.

Most cases of occasional childhood snoring are normal signs of deep, blissful relaxation. But if you notice your kid snores regularly, it might be time to consider other possible causes.

Here’s everything you need to know about identifying and, if necessary, treating childhood snoring.

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Satisfying Snooze or Risky Rest: Telling the Difference

The occasional snort, snuffle, and snore in resting children is completely normal. In fact, 10 percent or more of all children snore habitually (3 or more days a week), most without cause for concern.

Sometimes, snoring is more pronounced, like when a child is suffering from seasonal allergies, extra mucus from a cold or sinus infection, swollen tonsils, or a structural issue like a deviated septum.

Other times, snoring is a sign of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). OSA in children is a more serious condition characterized by intermittent obstructed breathing during sleep. When the airway is frequently blocked during sleep, completely or partially, this can result in disrupted sleep and diminished oxygen supply.

To tell whether your child’s audible sleep is problematic, consider these other telling factors.

  • Intense snoring and fitful sleep. Tossing and turning or twisted, hyperextended sleep positions, mouth breathing, labored breathing, and gasps for air can indicate a more serious problem.
  • Obesity. Obese children have a much higher chance of experiencing obstructive sleep apnea than children within the normal weight range.
  • Nighttime bedwetting. It’s possible that OSA affects a child’s urinary hormone production and ruine output which can lead to (that is, the ability to wake at appropriate times), urinary hormone production, bladder pressure, and sweat and urine output, which can all lead to bedwetting. So if your child regularly snores and struggles to stay dry at night, especially when your child was dry before, take note.
  • Academic, behavioral, or emotional problems. Adults with OSA experience predictable daytime drowsiness, but kids usually don’t. OSA in children has been linked to emotional difficulties and children with OSA have improved organization and school performance after treatment.

According to The National Sleep Foundation, when habitual snoring is combined with one or more of the above symptoms, then the overall clinical picture may indicate OSA. The possibility is worth a call to your pediatrician to discuss the need for further evaluation.

Verifying and Treating Childhood Snoring

To determine if your child’s snoring is abnormal, your doctor will ask a series of questions. A physical exam shows pediatricians more clues. If needed, your child’s doctor may refer your family to a sleep medicine specialist or ENT specialist for further evaluation.

Common, Effective Childhood Snoring Treatment

Again, the occasional sleep-snort needs no childhood snoring treatment. But kids diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea often undergo a simple, usually outpatient adenotonsillectomy procedure. Many parents, teachers, and caregivers report improved quality of life, demeanor, and behavioral conduct after treatment for OSA.

Don’t underestimate the power of sleep for child development. If you believe your youngster is experiencing insufficient or interrupted sleep, consult a sleep expert at the UPMC Pediatric Sleep Program at 412-692-5630, option 2.

Sources

Obesity Medicine Association, Obesity and Obstructive Sleep Apnea, https://obesitymedicine.org/obesity-and-sleep-apnea/

National Sleep Foundation, How To Tell If Your Child's Snoring Could Be Obstructive Sleep Apnea, https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/your-childs-snoring-sign-obstructive-sleep-apnea

American Academy of Family Physicians, Common Sleep Disorders in Children, https://www.aafp.org/afp/2014/0301/p368.html

About Pediatrics

From nutrition to illnesses, from athletics to school, children will face many challenges growing up. Parents often will make important health care decisions for them. We hope to help guide both of you in that journey. UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh ranks consistently on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll. UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital is a longtime national leader for women and their newborns. We aim to provide the best care for your children, from birth to adulthood and beyond.