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Snoring

A harsh noise produced by vibration of the soft palate and uvula of a sleeping child who is breathing pre-dominantly through the mouth. Not all noisy breathing is snoring. Nasal congestion and wheezing, for example, also generate sounds during sleep, but these are often heard during waking hours as well.

Snoring occurs for a number of reasons, most of which are not causes for concern. One of the most common causes is relaxation of the muscles and tissues in the back of the mouth, which allows them to vibrate while the child is inhaling or exhaling. Since the position of the head affects the vibration of these structures, simply moving the child can reduce or eliminate the snoring. This type of snoring can occur whether a child is breathing through the mouth or the nose.

Children with nasal congestion, whether caused by upper-respiratory infection or allergy, will breathe through the mouth at night and thus be more likely snore. Over-the-counter decongestants and antihistamines are often not effective in children, but if one an these preparations helps a child breathe more easily through the nose, a bedtime dose could help alleviate the snoring. Unfortunately, decongestants (such as phenylerine or pseudoephedrine) sometimes have a stimuli effect and actually interfere with sleep. While antihistamines (such as diphenhydramine or chlorphern-ramine) usually make children drowsy, occasionally these drugs cause an increase in activity. You may wants give a test dose during the day to see how your child responds.

If a child’s tonsils are unusually large, they may actually touch each other in the back of the mouth. This can cause not only loud snoring during sleep but also short periods of apnea, or cessation of breathing, lasting for several seconds. If the child has a pattern of continuous loud snoring and episodes of apnea, have him checked by your primary, care physician or an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist. Tonsils and/or adenoids large enough to cause snoring and obstruct breathing at night can lead to serious problems involving the heart and lungs. Tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy may be necessary to correct this condition,