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Children and snoring

Parents have become quite nosy to know more about what seems to be causing their child to snore. I dont want to make a lot of noise on this topic, but some information will help. Twenty percent of kids will snore, and about 10 percent will do it on a nightly basis. Snoring is usually due to the noise made when there is blockage to the flow of air in the back of the nose or mouth. Anything that limits the size of your childs airway will cause snoring, including relaxed muscles of the tongue and throat when your child is in a deep sleep, enlarged tonsils and adenoids, blocked nasal passages with a stuffy or blocked up nose, and even an enlarged uvulathat large thing that hangs down from the roof of the mouth in the back of your throat. Being overweight also can cause narrowing of the air passages and is associated with an increased risk of snoring. Snoring is only a problem for your child if he or she is having trouble sleeping at night, and then having behavioral problems during the day, such as problems paying attention at school, or increased fatigue and irritability at school due to lack of a sound sleep. If your child is holding his or her breath in the midst of snoring for up to 10 seconds, followed by gasping for air, or if your child is completely waking up during the night simply to restore normal breathing, then medical attention should be sought. In extreme cases, this type of snoring can lead to problems with hypertension, poor growth, and heart failure. But, this condition is rare. Even simple snoring can be a problem not so much for your child, but for the rest of the family, especially if your snoring child is sharing a room with a sibling who doesnt snore. Relief may be as simple as raising your childs head up on a second pillow, increasing your childs activity level to help him or her lose weight if he or she is overweight, changing your childs sleep position from back to side, or trying one of those white strips football players use to keep their noses open wide to allow them to breathe more easily during a game. If these ideas dont work, talk to your doctor, who can offer other suggestions and try to identify whether the cause of the snoring needs further medical or surgical treatment. Hopefully, tips like this will sound reassuring so you can breathe more easily when it comes to knowing when to really worry about your childs snoring. Lewis First, M.D., is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children's Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine.You can also listent to, or view, "First with Kids" weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and on WCAX-TV Channel 3.Visit the First with Kids archives at www.vermontchildrens.org.

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