Iris Kol interviewed Dr. Ari Derowe on the podcast "Expert Clinic" to understand the consequences for children who snore throughout the night.
When adults snore it’s loud and annoying, yet normal and we excuse them for the noise they make.
With children, we forgive them and think it’s cute, but it may be a sign of a medical problem.
Iris Kol interviewed Dr. Ari Derowe, director of the Pediatric Otolaryngology Unit at Dana-Dwek Children’s Hospital, a division of Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, on the "Expert Clinic" podcast, to understand what causes children to snore, how it affects their sleep and how to handle it.
At the opening of the interview, Derowe clarified that it’s not normal for children to snore, although it often happens.
Children aren’t small adults, it should be noted, and the reasons the child snores aren't the same as for an adult, he explained.
“For children, snoring is a sign that they aren’t breathing easily while they sleep,” Derowe said.Snoring is especially common between the ages of two and six, since, “this is when the tissues of the tonsils, or the third tonsil called the adenoids, are larger in kids, and is the main reason that they snore,” he continued.
How is snoring detected in children?
Stand near them while they’re deep asleep and just listen. It starts with a slight snoring, which shows that there’s a blockage.
With more significant blockage you’ll see that their chest is really straining, and when the blockage worsens, kids start to experience sleep apnea, where they stop breathing for a few seconds.
"We don't want to get into situations where the child has a lot of sleep apnea, and parents don't always recognize it, because they treat snoring as something cute. Sometimes it's really sweet and it isn’t an issue, but it can indicate a problem," Derowe said.
Sleeping with an open mouth, a child who has lots of nasal discharge, a lot of saliva or a nasal sound are all signs of a blockage that makes it difficult to breathe at night, according to Derowe.
What are the problems if a child snores?
The most important thing to understand about childhood snoring is that a snoring child puts effort into breathing at night.
“These children waste a lot of energy, and are really thin,” the doctor said. “They don’t develop cognitively or grow physically. They have ADHD just because their sleep is disturbed by this breathing.”
He said that sleep in children is a big part of life that is crucial for physical and cognitive development, so the more severe the disorder, the greater its impact on these things.
There’s also a link between the quality of sleep and nighttime bedwetting, probably due to the secretion of hormones that isn’t done properly because a child’s sleep isn’t restful. Also, studies show that academic achievement is also greatly affected by snoring. In fact, children who continuously snore are in most cases in the bottom decile in first grade.
"You say 'it’s cute and cool', but in the end there is a continuous impairment in the child's abilities," Derowe stressed.
What do we do about it?
"In children, the main cause of snoring, as mentioned, is an overgrowth of the tonsil tissue, or the third tonsil - the adenoids or a polyp. These things create a kind of suffocation ring for the child that is mainly expressed during sleep," Derowe explained.
The decision to operate on large tonsils or adenoids depends not on their size but on the level of impact on a child's sleep.
"If the disorder is significant, do surgery,” he said.
“In the end, unlike adults, this surgery heals the child,” according to Derow. “Parents return after a month and they’re in shock. They didn’t understand how difficult it was for their child.”