Snoring can be a normal symptom of a cold or virus in children. But when snoring persists and children have difficulty sleeping, parents should take their children to a doctor to look for signs of more serious conditions.
Snoring occurs in about 20 percent of children and is most common among children between 2 and 6, said Dr. Marcel Deray, a pediatric neurologist and director of the sleep disorders center at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami. About 10 percent of children who suffer from snoring have some sort of obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that leads to pauses in breathing throughout the night.
“That’s the peak time that kids have enlarged adenoids and tonsils, which is the main cause of snoring and sleep apnea,” Deray said.
Besides loud snoring, children may seem restless in their sleep, talk in their sleep, sleep in abnormal positions or sleep walk. Children may also begin wetting the bed again after not wetting the bed for months. All of these nighttime behaviors are signs that a child may need treatment for their snoring and that it could be sleep apnea.
During the daytime, children suffering from sleep apnea may wake up tired, irritable, moody and with headaches. Teachers may notice children falling asleep in class or having difficulty paying attention.
Environmental factors and allergens may also contribute to snoring. Children who are exposed to smoking can snore more. Obesity can also make children more prone to snoring because an obese person can have difficulty breathing. Children with Down syndrome or facial abnormalities are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea because they have a greater chance of having a collapsed airway.
“Some risk factors for snoring and sleep apnea may be kids that are overweight, so kids that have a body mass index (BMI) over 26. You want to be a little more proactive in screening for sleep apnea,” said Dr. Leonardo Torres, a pediatric sleep specialist at UHealth-the University of Miami Health System.
- Loud snoring
- Hearing gasps or snorting during child’s sleep
- Sleeping in abnormal positions
- Wetting the bed after not wetting it for six months
- Headaches in the morning
- Falling asleep in class
- Mouth breathing
- Sleep walking/talking