Is your child snoring at bedtime?

By: - 10th September 2019
baby

More than 10% of children snore during their sleep. This is due to blockages that occur at the back end of their mouth which connects to the respiratory tract opening. The opening and closing of the respiratory tract cause the tissues in the throat to vibrate. The amount of sound this process creates depends on how much air is moving and how fast the throat tissue vibrate. The speed of which the air flows through this will affect the level of obstruction.

More than 10% of children snore during their sleep. This is due to blockages that occur at the back end of their mouth which connects to the respiratory tract opening. The opening and closing of the respiratory tract cause the tissues in the throat to vibrate. The amount of sound this process creates depends on how much air is moving and how fast the throat tissue vibrate. The speed of which the air flows through this will affect the level of obstruction.

Causes of Snoring
  1. Diseases of the respiratory tract.
  2. Asthma.
  3. Obesity.
  4. Abnormality of the scalp and face.
  5. Sickle Cell Disease – This is a disease which results in red blood cells taking the shape of a "C" or a sickle. This results in blood cells not being able to flow properly through the blood vessels and clumping together. With this accumulation, the small arteries are at risk of becoming blocked resulting in poor distribution of oxygen via hemoglobin to the tissues.
  6. Deviated septum – one nostril being narrow due to abnormal formation of the nose.
  7. Sleep apnea - breathlessness during sleep.
  8. History of being a premature baby.
  9. Extended palate (roof of mouth) and lips.
  10. Genetic diseases (Downs syndrome).
  11. Neuro muscular diseases, cerebral palsy, muscular atrophy.
  12. Allergic reactions – these can cause bloating and obstruction of the respiratory tract.
  13. Nose blocks during sleep.
  14. Enlargement of the tonsil glands in the throat or the occurrence of adenoids.
Sleep Apnea

This is a common focus related to snoring. When a child sleeps, their throat muscles intermittently relax and block their airway. This leads to insufficient space for proper airflow, which causes breathing to stop. This pause can last from a few seconds up to even a minute. The brain then alerts the body to resume breathing. As a result, the child will be breathing uncomfortably, start snoring, or even waking up from sleep.

The following are a few symptoms of sleep apnea:
  • Snoring.
  • Breathing ceases.
  • Fear of sleep, restlessness during sleep, unusual head positioning.
  • Coughing or shortness of breath.
  • Loud noises from the nose as they breath.
  • Breathing from the mouth.
  • Wetting the bed.
  • Excessive sweating during sleep.

If the child does not get enough sleep during the night, they may experience some of the following difficulties during the day. If they are exhibiting any such difficulties, it is best to consult a doctor on their behalf:

  • Drop in school performance and learning problems.
  • Difficulty in focusing.
  • Reduced weight gain.
  • Hyperactivity.
  • Morning headache.
  • Irritability, agitation, excessive anger.
  • Excessive sleepiness during daytime and difficulty waking up during the day.

Here are treatment options for sleep apnea:

  • Surgical removal of the tonsil gland or the adenoids gland.
  • Lose weight.
  • Medicinal treatments.
  • Medicinal treatments.
  • Medicinal treatments.
An article prepared in consultation with Dr. Nirmali Ekanayake of the Pediatric Unit of the Anuradhapura Teaching Hospital.

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