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According to Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, while snoring is most prevalent among elderly adults, many children also snore. Read on to learn more about the causes and consequences of snoring in children.


Whether it’s soft purring or wall rattling, snoring may be a cause of stress for any parent. Almost all children snore occasionally. Most of the time, snoring has no demonstrable impact on a child’s sleep or overall health.


However, when snoring becomes more frequent and disturbs your child’s sleep, it may indicate sleep-disordered breathing (SDB).


The severity of SDB varies and can be categorised as follows:


Minor snoring is believed to occur in up to 27% of children. This type of light, temporary snoring does not usually raise health concerns.


Primary snoring, also known as chronic snoring, occurs when a child snores more than twice a week but has no other observable symptoms or health problems and is thought to affect between 10 and 12% of children.


A small percentage of children with chronic snoring also suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a disorder characterised by frequent pauses in a child’s breathing during sleep. These gaps, known as apneas, occur dozens of times per night due to airway obstruction.


OSA is associated with disturbed sleep and detrimental effects on a child’s physical and mental health, learning, and behaviour. According to studies, between 1.2% and 5.7% of children suffer obstructive sleep apnea.

What causes children to snore?

Snoring occurs when air cannot flow easily through the back of the throat’s airway. When a person inhales or exhales, the tissue surrounding the airway vibrates, producing an audible sound.


Multiple reasons can produce airway obstructions and result in snoring. The most prevalent risk factors for childhood snoring include:


Enlarged or swollen tonsils and adenoidsTonsils and adenoids are found at the back of the throat and are immune system components. Suppose the tonsils and adenoids are naturally oversized or enlarged due to an illness. In that case, they can block the airway and cause snoring, the most prevalent cause of paediatric sleep-disordered breathing.


ObesityAccording to studies, overweight children are more likely to snore. Obesity can constrict the airway and increase the risk of sleep-disordered breathing, including obstructive sleep apnea.


Congestion: Cold-like symptoms can create congestion and impede airflow, and infection can inflame the tonsils and adenoids.


AllergiesAllergy attacks can irritate the nose and throat, making breathing difficult and increasing the chance of snoring. As with allergies, asthma can impede regular breathing, and if it produces partial airway obstructions, it can cause snoring.


Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS): Exposure to ETS, also known as secondhand smoke, can alter breathing and has been linked to an increased risk of snoring among children. Low air quality or excessive pollutants might impede normal respiration and increase the likelihood that a youngster will snore frequently.


Breastfeeding: According to research, there is an association between snoring in children and a shorter length of breastfeeding. The specific cause for this is uncertain, although breastfeeding may aid in developing the upper airway in a way that reduces the likelihood of snoring.

Is childhood snoring dangerous?

The good news is that, in most cases, infrequent snoring in children is not harmful. However, chronic or severe snoring that is symptomatic of sleep-disordered breathing can have serious health repercussions.

When to get help

Parents who are concerned about their child’s snoring should seek medical advice.


“A precise diagnosis can assist decide the most effective method for reducing snoring, and the doctor is in the greatest position to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of various treatment methods,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.


Although occasional snoring may be normal, the following symptoms may suggest the probability of sleep-disordered breathing:


What can help reduce children’s snoring?

Typically, light, sporadic snoring ceases shortly on its own. For many children, even chronic snoring can resolve independently without treatment. In some instances, however, doctors may recommend that your child has an adenotonsillectomy or recommend the use of PAP therapy.


Adenotonsillectomy, often known as a tonsillectomy, is one of the most common therapies for children with sleep-disordered breathing. Removing the tissue that usually obstructs the airway, this procedure helps lessen nighttime snoring and breathing interruptions.


A positive airway pressure (PAP) device delivers pressured air into the mouth and airway via a mask to prevent blockage. Most PAP devices are either continuous (CPAP) or bi-level (BiPAP) based on how they regulate airflow.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of health insurance, offering you a range of options at affordable rates including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, your budget, and your lifestyle. Our range of healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service at all times. For more information, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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