Ear, Nose & Throat

A Snoring Child Should Be Evaluated by an ENT

written by Becki Andrus

Snoring is quite common in adults, with nearly half of the adult population who snore. But when snoring occurs in children, it can be a sign of an underlying health condition that needs to be addressed. Not only could the snoring be getting in the way of the child’s sleep, but it could also be affecting breathing patterns during the night.

Why Does Snoring Occur?

The term “snoring” is an umbrella phrase that refers to breathing problems when someone is sleeping. Some people make light, gentle sounds as the air moves in and out. Other people are much louder when they are snoring.

This snoring sound happens because of vibrations that occur with the soft palate and uvula, located in the back of the throat. Therefore, the loudness and overall sound of the snoring is affected by several factors:

  • The amount of air passing through
  • Vibration levels of the throat tissues
  • Relaxation or collapse of the throat tissues

When snoring occurs in children, it’s most common for these symptoms to happen in the deepest stages of sleep. Snoring isn’t common in children, but it can happen in children of all ages. It’s estimated that approximately 10% of children snore regularly, and this snoring can be caused by pediatric sleep-disordered breathing or obstructive sleep apnea.

What to Do if Your Child is Snoring

Usually, the first step for diagnosis and medical treatment of any condition is to talk to the child’s pediatrician. Your primary care physician is an excellent resource for common health concerns and general medical advice and treatments.

But a primary care physician or pediatrician doesn’t have the same expertise you can access by visiting with an ENT. Often, the pediatrician will refer you to talk to an ENT doctor (also known as an otolaryngologist).

Our team at Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat is here to offer the quality services you need. Simply call our office to schedule a consultation and examination.

When to Call an ENT if Your Child is Snoring

Just because you hear your child snoring doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to rush for immediate medical services. Sometimes, snoring is caused by an illness. For example, if the child has a head cold and congestion, they might snore while sick.

But if the snoring is an ongoing, chronic condition, then it’s wise to consult with an ear, nose, and throat specialist for a diagnosis.

Watch and listen for these signs that you need to talk to our team about your child’s snoring:

  • Gasping during the night
  • Snorting sounds
  • Restless sleeping patterns
  • Frequently waking during the night
  • Bedwetting
  • Teeth grinding
  • Unusual sleep positions

If the snoring is happening for a short time, such as a week when the child is sick, it might not be necessary to call an ear, nose, and throat specialist. But if you notice a consistent problem with snoring, you should consult with a specialist for diagnosis and treatment.

Why Snoring is a Problem for Children

We recommend that parents don’t leave the snoring untreated. When your child is sleeping, the body needs to rest to restore the child’s energy. This resting phase each night affects both mental and physical well-being.

Medical concerns arise when loud snoring interrupts sleep and is associated with abnormal breathing. In addition, if the snoring is affecting the quality of sleep, then the child could experience other downstream effects:

  • Tire easily during the day
  • Hyperactivity
  • Behavioral issues
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Slowing of growth
  • Poor school performance
  • Learning difficulties

Children who snore often have issues with hypopnea (under breathing) or apnea (a complete pause in breathing).

What to Expect: Snoring and Breathing Evaluation

When you bring your child to our office for the appointment, we complete a thorough examination to examine your child’s airway structures. In some cases, snoring is happening because of airway abnormalities, such as enlarged adenoids or tonsils.

If your child has severe snoring symptoms, then a sleep study might be recommended. This evaluation helps to determine the degree of obstruction and diagnose sleep apnea.

Snoring Treatments for Children

To stop the snoring, we must treat the underlying cause. A variety of snoring treatments are available, depending on the specific reason why your child is snoring.

We always start with minimally invasive treatments, then move onto bigger treatments when necessary. Potential treatment suggestions for snoring might include:

  • Tonsil Removal: An outpatient surgery can be done to remove the tonsils and adenoids. If these tissues are chronically inflamed and causing snoring, then it can be helpful to remove them to improve sleep obstruction.
  • Pressure Ventilation: One nonsurgical option is to use pressure ventilation when the child is sleeping. This treatment keeps the airways open at night.
  • Lifestyle Changes: Obesity is a risk factor that increases the likelihood of snoring. If the child is overweight, it’s recommended to implement lifestyle changes such as physical activity and healthy eating to help with weight loss.
  • Allergy Treatments: Sometimes, snoring occurs because of chronic congestion from allergies. Treating the allergies might resolve the snoring issues. In addition, we can recommend medications or allergy treatments to alleviate these symptoms.

Interesting Facts about Childhood Snoring

Here are a few things parents should know if their child is snoring:

  • Approximately 10% of children snore, and most of the time, it isn’t a serious medical concern.
  • A small portion of children who snore have obstructive sleep apnea, which is why it’s essential to schedule an evaluation with an ENT.
  • An estimated 25% of children with ADHD suffer from sleep apnea, and many of these behavioral and learning issues are connected with poor sleep.
  • Seemingly unrelated problems could be a sign of breathing issues while sleeping, such as bedwetting or sleepwalking.
  • Sleep apnea can run in families, which means that your child has a higher likelihood of OSA if a parent has been diagnosed with this condition.
  • The most common treatment for children who snore is the removal of the tonsils and adenoids through a surgical treatment.

Even though snoring isn’t a serious concern for most children, it’s smart to consult with an ENT if your child snores regularly. Then, you can rule out sleep apnea and have the peace of mind to know that there aren’t severe underlying health concerns that need to be addressed.

Call Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat

If your child is snoring, then it’s time to talk to an ENT in the Collin County or Dallas area. We invite you to contact us at Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat to consult at one of our offices in Frisco or Plano, TX. Call our team at (972) 596-4005, or use our online form to request an appointment.

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