My toddler’s snoring — Should I be worried?

Learn the possible reasons behind the condition that is robbing your sweetie (and you) of precious Zzzs…


If you think your cherub isn’t as capable of producing the loud and grating snores your hubby does — think again. Dr Kenny Pang, an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist with Asia Sleep Centre, notes that from his experience, snoring is fairly common among toddlers aged 1 to 5.

Snoring happens when there is a blockage in your sweetie’s airways, which restricts the flow of air through his nose and throat. The air from the obstruction in his throat gives rise to vibrations, which results in the sounds you hear.

By the way, Dr Pang notes that a child’s snoring can be attributed to respiratory infections he sustains when he is sick. His snoring could also be due to genetic conditions like a small jaw or a deviated septum. The last cause ― sleep apnoea ― can even disrupt his sleep. As a result, he may display behavioural changes during the day — appearing moody, lethargic and is unable to remain attentive in school.

Sleep apnoea ― can even disrupt his sleep. As a result, he may display behavioural changes during the day — appearing moody, lethargic and is unable to remain attentive in school.

Therefore, Dr Pang stresses that you should seek help from a child sleep or ENT specialist as soon as your child starts to snore. He details the possible reasons for your child’s snoring:

1) Deviated septum

WHAT The nasal septum is the bone and cartilage that divides the inside of your nose in half. In some children, this bone may be crooked at the end or develops in the wrong position, which results in the breathing passages being of unequal size. This affects the flow of air into their respiratory system.

SOLUTION Sometimes, medication will be enough to relieve the symptoms associated with a deviated septum. Or the specialist may suggest that your kiddo get a surgical procedure — septoplasty — to correct the crooked septum to improve his breathing.

2) Small jaw

WHAT Most people’s upper jaw — also called the maxilla — and lower jaw — called mandible — are well aligned. For individuals with a small jaw (also known as retrognathia), the abnormally small mandible is set back as compared to the position of their maxilla. While genetics is the most common cause, it could also be caused by jaw trauma sustained early in the child’s development. Because of the jaw’s position, it can cause the tongue to recede, thus obstructing the airways.

SOLUTION Orthodontic treatment in the form of wearing special headgear to slow the growth of the other better-developed jaw, so as to align both parts. Depending on the severity of the condition, follow-up surgery may be required to “move” the other jaw outwards.


3) Respiratory infections

WHAT Upper respiratory tract infections like the common cold or flu — even allergies — could cause your child to snore. The build-up of mucus blocks the airways, so it’s hard for air to flow through the nose and throat. Sometimes, these infections can lead to enlarged tonsils and adenoids, too. These parts of the respiratory system trap any virus or bacteria he inhales, so as to protect him from infections. Unfortunately, in doing so, your child’s tonsil and adenoids may swell.

SOLUTION Ask the doctors if your child is suitable for nasal decongestants. If he has allergies, try and keep your child away from the possible triggers. Surgical procedures — like an adenoidectomy or a tonsillectomy — can be carried out to remove your child’s oversized adenoids and tonsils.

An obese or overweight child is also at higher risk of developing OSA.

4) Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA)

WHAT If your child has OSA, pauses in his breathing will accompany his snoring, which may even rouse him from sleep. Such breathing interruptions can happen repeatedly during a restful night’s sleep. Dr Pang points out that OSA is a very common condition and can also be attributed to other causes like enlarged tonsils and adenoids. An obese or overweight child is also at higher risk of developing OSA.

SOLUTION If your kid’s OSA is caused by enlarged tonsils and adenoids, he may require surgery to remove them. If not, the doctor may advise that you get a continuous positive airway pressure machine, which delivers a constant and steady air supply to junior’s nasal passages while he sleeps.

Here are simple steps to prevent your child from snoring:

* Place a pillow underneath his mattress Elevating your child’s head can relieve any congestion and clear up his respiratory passages.

* Remove any allergy triggers Dr Pang points out that getting rid of pets, carpets and stuffed toys may help, too.

* Exercise and keep to a balanced diet As being overweight increases your child’s chance of developing OSA, encourage him to observe a fitness regimen as this will improve his quality of sleep and attentiveness in class.

Photos: iStock

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