Snoring is often considered to be a subject for jokes when it is found in adults. However, for parents, it can be a shock to suddenly find their younger child or even baby snoring. That leads quickly to concern and worried questions of the “is it normal for children to snore?” variety.
A quick answer to snoring
A truthful answer is “no”, it is not normal – however that’s usually absolutely nothing to worry about!
As far as is known, around 15-20% of children snore. So, it is not normal but it isn’t rare either.
Is it dangerous?
In almost all cases, no, it is not dangerous.
What causes snoring?
The actual mechanics are clear but the underlying origins may vary considerably and in some cases are never easily identifiable.
Snoring can be caused by:
- a blockage in the nasal passages or back of the throat, arising from an infection or allergic reaction;
- shallow sleep;
- the angle of our necks and head on the pillow;
- issues with our adenoids or tonsils;
- excessive consumption of alcohol;
- some other and relatively rare medical conditions.
There is also some evidence that snoring is more commonplace in adults and children who are one or more of the following:
- being overweight;
- lacking sufficient physical exercise;
- suffering from or with an inclination towards asthma.
What can be done?
In children, if the cause is related to something like a cold, the snoring should pass within a week or two without any need for intervention.
It might be possible to try and encourage your child to sleep on their side rather than back, though this is not safe for babies and younger children.
If the snoring continues, it might be sensible to get your doctor to have a quick look to see if there are issues with their tonsils etc. Possibly surgery may be required if that is the case but that is relatively uncommon. More likely is that they’ll possibly recommend a spray to help unblock the nose or back throat areas.
Your doctor will also check for some other medical conditions that might, rarely, be playing a role. They might also recommend some allergy testing.
Try not to confuse snoring with wheezing coming usually from the upper chest or lower neck areas.
Wheezing usually indicates an allergy, an infection affecting the upper respiratory system or perhaps asthma.
Another syndrome that can be confused with snoring (or which may cause it) is called “obstructive sleep apnoea”. This is a more concerning condition that essentially means the child is stopping breathing, usually for short periods, while they sleep.
Although this can lead to snoring, it is also often accompanied by evidence that the child is struggling for breath. You may see while they’re sleeping not only snoring but also:
- pauses in their breathing;
They might also be listless and tired during the following day.
Obstructive sleep apnoea should always receive medical attention and an accurate diagnosis. The condition can be managed but the treatments depend on the cause.
Sometimes your doctor may recommend that your child loses some weight and undertakes an exercise programme. In other instances, surgery on tonsils may be required.