Does your child suffer from a condition that leads to them snoring or mouth breathing at night? Do they frequently develop upper respiratory infections? Do they often complain about ear pain or nose blocks? Is there any swelling or enlargement of lymph nodes in the neck? Do such issues often lead to absenteeism from school?
If you do notice any of these symptoms, it is important to check if the child has an airway block or if there is an underlying sleep disorder that is causing them.
Causes of Snoring in Children
There are several conditions that may be the reason behind the snoring of a child. These include:
- Adenoid Enlargement
- Tonsil Enlargement
- Deviated Nasal Septum
- Swollen Turbinate
It may be the above-mentioned conditions that are behind your child snoring at night, or they may be suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). Almost 2% of children across the world suffer from sleep apnoea, with the condition being most common among 3-6-year-old children.
Common Symptoms to Look Out For
It is not enough to consider how to avoid snoring in children as it may not be more than a temporary solution. On the other hand, finding the root cause of snoring in children and then affecting a proper treatment plan will help offer long-term relief.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea may not be that common a cause behind the snoring of a child, but it is not unheard of. In case OSA is the cause of snoring in children, a timely diagnosis should be ensured, in order to avoid the various complications of the condition.
Here are some Obstructive sleep Apnoea symptoms that a child may be displaying:
During the Night, Look Out For:
- Instances of regular snoring in children
- Waking up suddenly through the night
- Having to struggle with their breathing or if they stop breathing
- Unusual sleeping positions with their neck extended
- Excessive sweating
- Wetting the bed
- Bruxism or a habit of grinding their teeth
On the other hand, during the day, you will need to be aware of:
- Behavioural issues
- Trouble concentrating
- Struggling with eating
- If their growth is normal
- If they mouth breath
Here is a simple screening method that can help you identify if your child is having sleep problems.
The BEARS Questionnaire (Answer in ‘Yes’ or ‘No’)
- B – Bedtime Issues
- E – Excessive Sleepiness During the Day
- A – Awakening During Nights
- R – Irregularity and Less Duration of Sleep
- S – Snoring (Or Sleep Disorder-Affected Breathing)
If you answered ‘Yes’ to only 1 or 2 conditions mentioned above.
You can consider taking some simple measures to improve the quality of sleep your child is getting, like treating snoring in children with home remedies.
- Ensure that the child gets enough exercise during the day, which will help the child fall asleep more easily at night.
- Provide them a comfortable sleep setting.
- Establish a regular bedtime schedule for your child and make sure they follow it.
- Do not give your child heavy meals or large snacks late at night just before bedtime.
- Allow enough time for them to sleep.
If you answered ‘Yes’ to more than 2 of the conditions mentioned above.
There may be an underlying sleep disorder affecting your child and you should book an appointment at the paediatric hospital with an ENT specialist for a detailed evaluation.
Before Visiting the Doctor
Before a doctor prescribes treatment for the child for snoring or other sleep disorders, they will evaluate the condition thoroughly to identify the root cause. You can aid them in their efforts with the following measures:
- Maintain a “Sleep Diary” for Your Child: Record relevant information like the time of onset of sleep, time of waking up, duration of sleep, number of times there were sleep disturbances or the child was awakened, time taken to fall asleep again each time after waking up, the number of daytime naps your child takes, etc.
- Take a Video: Make a recording of weird sleep positions, noisy breathing, or of the child snoring at night. This is a better way of explaining the problem to paediatric doctors rather than trying to verbally define it.
These simple measures will go a long way in helping the doctor diagnose the condition after which they will prescribe your child a good treatment for snoring or sleep disorders.
The Importance of Treating Snoring in Children
It is not just about the snoring of a child but about the cause behind it. As snoring in children may be caused by obstructive sleep apnoea, it is vital to get the correct diagnosis for the possible causes of snoring in children so proper treatment can be commenced. Even mild to moderate instances of obstructive sleep apnoea can lead to:
- Adverse neurobehavioral consequences like depression, anxiety, and hyperactivity which can negatively affect the child’s quality of life.
- Cognitive issues like poor memory, lack of concentration, poor reaction time, and overall poor performance in school.
- Health issues like impaired growth, poor immunity, poor asthma control, increased risk of obesity, and lung and heart disorders.
QUALITY SLEEP – SOUND MIND – HAPPY WORLD
Dr. Ria Emmanuel | Consultant E.N.T | Narayana Multispeciality Hospital, HSR Layout, Bangalore