Children who snore may be much more likely to have asthma and a nighttime cough than children who do not snore, says a new study from Australia.
Doctors often use night cough as a guide for diagnosing asthma in children, but the findings, which appear in the August issue of Chest, suggest it may be appropriate to treat the snoring first, says one of the study's co-authors.
"Night cough is often taken as a sign of the onset or development of asthma in a young child," says Dr. Colin E. Sullivan, a professor of medicine at the University of Sydney. "Our study shows that such coughing might be being triggered by the child's snoring."
"The study is really an important step," says Dr. James L. Goodwin, an epidemiologist and research assistant professor at the University of Arizona Respiratory Center in Tucson.
Nighttime cough, Goodwin explains, is often used to diagnose asthma in children, but the findings suggest that in some cases snoring may be causing the coughing.
Although snoring may raise the risk of night cough even in children who do not have asthma, Sullivan notes that childhood asthma and snoring do appear to be linked, pointing out that more than 40 percent of children who snored had asthma, compared to about 26 percent of children who did not snore.
"Snorers had almost a doubling of the level of asthma," Sullivan says.
"Because there is such a high association between snoring and asthma, we think it is unlikely that the link can be simply because of an association with the more severe form of snoring." This condition, known as obstructive sleep apnea, stops breathing dozens of times a night by causing the upper airway to completely close during sleep.