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2/27/24 blog post

when to be concerned about snoring

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While you may be used to listening to your significant other snore all night long, it’s a little different when you hear your child snore. Whether it’s a little purr or a bed-rattling snore, it can be concerning for parents. We sat down with Dr. Khalid Safi, chief of pediatric sleep medicine at Dayton Children’s, to learn more about snoring, when parents should be concerned, and possible treatments for snoring. 

what is snoring? 

Snoring is caused by an obstructed airway while breathing which results in the tissues of the throat to vibrate and produce sound during sleep. Snoring can be caused by nasal congestion, relaxed throat muscles, enlarged tonsils and adenoids or abnormalities in the throat. 

when should parents be concerned about snoring?

About one in 5 or 6 children who snore has obstructive sleep apnea. Occasional snoring is most likely normal and can be caused by sleeping position or nasal congestion due to a cold. But persistent snoring may be something of concern. Parents should look out for the following signs of snoring: 

  1. How often and how severe: if your child is snoring often and loudly and it’s happening with gasping or choking sounds, it could be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea. 
  2. Daytime sleepiness or hyperactivity: children who snore a lot at night may be sleepy or hyperactive during the day which can cause difficulty concentrating at school, irritability and/or behavioral problems. These symptoms can be caused by poor sleep at night due to snoring.
  3. Enlarged tonsils or adenoids: children with enlarged tonsils and adenoids may experience persistent snoring and should be evaluated by a health care provider. 
  4. Growth and development: children with persistent snoring may experience growth and development delays including cognitive dysfunction and cardiovascular health issues. 

what are the treatments for snoring?

Treatment for snoring will depend on the underlying cause. Some treatment options may include: 

  • Changes in lifestyle: developing healthy sleep habits can help with snoring. Healthy sleep habits include maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine late in the day, and reducing screen time before bed. 
  • Medical involvement: If snoring is caused by obstructive sleep apnea or enlarged tonsils and adenoids, it is necessary to see a doctor. Management includes a sleep study to evaluate for underlying sleep apnea. The treatment of sleep apnea depends on many factors and may include medications to reduce upper airway congestion in mild cases. For more severe forms of obstructive sleep apnea removing the tonsils and adenoids in the recommended treatment. On a few occasions, patients with obstructive sleep apnea may require using a machine to help alleviate upper airway obstruction (i.e. CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure machine). 

While snoring may seem harmless, it can be a sign of underlying sleep condition, especially in children. If you think your child’s snoring could be caused by something mentioned above, schedule an appointment today with one of our pediatric sleep medicine experts. 

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doctor Khalid Safi
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Khalid Safi, MD

division chief sleep medicine
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