Snoring is the sound produced when air passes through the vibrating narrow tissues of the upper airway. The principle (Bernoulli’s Principle) is the same as that of blowing on a flute to create music – the sound comes through the narrowed portions.

The upper airway consists of-         

  • Nose
  • Nasopharynx  (the post nasal space)      
  • Oral cavity and Oropharynx        
  • Hypopharynx – leading to the foodpipe         
  • Larynx – the voice box

Snoring is traditionally produced by narrowing in the passage of the Nose, Nasopharynx or Oropharynx. There are many structures here that can cause this. 

To enumerate

Nose

Obstruction in the Nose can be caused by the following-       

  •  Nasal septal deviation-         
  • Nasal Polyps-         
  • Turbinate hypertrophy-         
  • Severe Allergic Rhinitis -         
  • Persistent Sinusitis

Nasopharynx

The following common causes can cause Snoring in children -      

  •  Adenoid enlargement-         
  • Congenital Cysts 

Oropharynx         

  • Enlarged Tonsils-         
  • Macroglossia – enlarged tongue-       
  •  Lingual Tonsil Hypertrophy – enlargement of the tonsils behind the tongue

After perusing the list above, it would be evident that the commonest causes of snoring in children would usually be -        

  •  Enlarged adenoids-    
  •  Enlarged tonsils-         
  • Nasal polyps

The other causes are not so common. Even among these, an enlarged adenoid tissue is most often likely to cause snoring in children.

Why are we so concerned about Snoring?

You must have realized that the any abnormality in body function is manifested in one of two ways-      

  • Sudden dramatic presentation – like pain, bleeding after a cut, choking, breathlessness – these are sudden and significant events and the person takes immediate steps to relieve the same-       
  • Gradual non painful onset and progression –among these are the so called ‘Silent killers’ like Hypertension and Diabetes– the disease barely manifests itself and its ill effects are not immediately felt.  Snoring is considered among the latter category – and that happens when Snoring causes a condition called “Sleep Apnoea”. Snoring by itself would be considered just a social nuisance but when it leads to Sleep Apnoea it would be a health hazard. Apnoea is stoppage in the breathing, and this happens when the obstruction is strong enough to prevent the inflow of air while breathing. This could be serious and over a period of time we are learning the long term damage done to the Lungs and the Heart on account of the obstruction in breathing.

What should you do when your child snores?

The safest option would be to make a recording of the event and then take the child to visit an ENT Specialist who will evaluate the patient and determine the cause of the problem.

Medication including nasal medication could be prescribed. In some cases a surgery (Adenoidectomy, Tonsillectomy etc) may be advised.