Dr. Nina L. Shapiro: Most of us, at some point, have nudged, kicked, or ever so gently pushed our bed partner out of bed because of snoring. In adults, snoring is mostly annoying to the person hearing it, whereby we may resort to earplugs, sound machines, or even separate bedrooms to get some sleep.
But did you know that children who snore might have a serious problem? In order to get a grasp of this, we need to understand what snoring is:
Snoring is the noise created when there is some blockage in the air passages during sleep, anywhere from the nose to the top of the voice box. It implies that there is some "turbulence" in the airflow. In children, the most common sources of this blockage are enlarged tonsils and adenoids, or nasal stuffiness from a cold or allergies.
While snoring is not normal per se, it is usually not dangerous and is nothing to worry about. If your child has a little "noisiness" when they sleep (usually described as a "light snore"), this is not a big deal. BUT, if the snoring is loud, where your child struggles to breathe, has snoring that is so loud you can hear it with the door closed, read on.
When a child has loud snoring, cute as it may sound, it oftentimes implies that there is a disruption in his or her sleep. If your child is snoring loudly, having periods of gasping, choking, or apnea (where they stop breathing for 3 to 15 seconds, followed by a big snore or gasp), they are not getting QUALITY sleep. While you may be diligent about sticking to that bedtime, 11 hours of restless, struggling sleep may add up to only 6 hours of actual sleep time.
The quality (not just quantity) of your child's sleep is so important. Poor sleep quality has been found to be linked to poor daytime behavior, irritability, poor grades, and even signs of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder.
So before you close your door, and get a moment to yourself after your child has fallen asleep, take a listen. Silence? Great! Noise? Take two aspirin and call your doctor in the morning.
|Dr. Nina Shapiro is a graduate of Harvard Medical School, and she completed her residency in ear, nose, and throat surgery at Harvard. She is an Associate Professor and Director of Pediatric Ear, Nose, and Throat at the Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA. She has treated tens of thousands of children with ear problems, sleep problems, and breathing problems. She lives with her husband and two young children in Los Angeles.|