Snoring is a common complaint by parents and it is estimated that approximately 3-12% children snore. Since snoring is common problem most parents do not seek help for this complaint although many parents are concerned about their child’s restless sleep .

The key question is when, why and how to treat a snoring child?

What is Snoring?

  • Snoring is harsh noise produced during sleep in some children when the child breathes.
  • Refer to the image which is attached below. During normal health the airway of the child is normally open and there is no noise which is produced. Figure 1a shows a normal airway.
  • When the airway gets partially obstructed as in Figure 1b snoring sound is produced by the vibration of the soft palate.
  • Occasionally the airway can get completely obstructed as shown in Figure 1c. This stage is called as sleep apnea.

What are the causes of snoring in children?
Snoring in children can be due to multiple causes. The most important cause is the enlargement of Adenoids and Tonsils. But there can be other or additional causes of snoring in children such as allergic rhinitis leading to enlarged nasal turbinates, nasal polyps, large tongue and a small mandible. Refer to the figure shown.

When do we need to worry for a child who snores?

  • Children who snores on a regular basis and has any additional feature like difficulty in breathing at night, intermittent gasps, pauses in breathing, frequent night awakenings, sleep with neck arched backwards.
  • Children who snores on a regular basis and has any additional daytimes problems like hyperactivity, poor attention span, sleepy in day (except than a small day time nap), poor school performance, poor concentration.
  • Children who snores on a regular basis and have features of adenoid enlargement like mouth breathing, nasal block on a regular basis, adenoid facies etc.

What are the invetigations needed in snoring children?

  • We would first do a detailed clinical examination to look at the causes of snoring
  • Some children might need Xrays of the nose, sinuses and neck.
  • Some children might need Sleep Study for further evaluation.

What is the treatment in such children?
Treatment depends on the cause of the snoring like treatment for allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, adenoid enlargement etc.