Is It Normal That My Child Snores?
A snoring child may seem unusual, so we asked an expert when it might be cause for concern.
If you hear an adult snore, it may be annoying, but it’s hardly surprising. After all, we’ve become accustomed to hearing the occasional friend or loved one sawing logs through the years. When the person snoring away at night is a child rather than an adult, however, that’s a different story. It can be alarming, simply because hearing a child snore in such a way isn’t really expected.
While hearing a child snore may seem unusual, it’s not unheard of, says Dr. Leonardo A. Torres, an otolaryngologist with the University of Miami Health System. “About 10 percent of kids snore regularly, but it’s not always worrisome,” he says. “About 3 to 5 percent have other concerning symptoms and may have sleep apnea.”
Is the snoring a problem?
The trick to determining whether your child’s snoring is a problem is to look for other symptoms, says Dr. Torres. If it’s just regular, light snoring, and your child has no other symptoms, then it might not be an issue.
However, if your child is restless, snorts or even stops breathing during sleep, then these are potential signs of obstructive sleep apnea. A child with apnea can have other warning signs and symptoms, as well. “Children with sleep disturbances often have symptoms that can be confused with attention deficit disorder, difficulty with potty training, trouble concentrating during school, failure to gain weight and other associated problems,” says Dr. Torres.
If you’re worried about your child’s snoring
If these or any other symptoms are present along with snoring in your child, you’ll want to talk to your doctor. Preferably, get a referral to an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) physician. This doctor is specifically qualified to diagnose the conditions and treat them properly.
In some cases, a sleep study on the child may be necessary to get to the bottom of the problem, says Dr. Torres. However, he adds that a sleep study is not needed as frequently as it is in adults. And that’s because the vast majority of obstructive sleep apnea cases in children can be traced back to a common cause, and that’s enlarged adenoids and tonsils.
“The first line of defense for treating sleep disturbances in children is almost always surgery to remove tonsils and/or adenoids,” says Dr. Torres. “In some instances, it may be related to congestion from allergies and related issues, but this is secondary to tonsils and adenoids.”
A simple procedure with big benefits
In his own practice, Dr. Torres has seen the big benefits that can come from this relatively simple surgery. “I have seen countless examples of kids who have come to me, and their parents just don’t know what’s wrong,” says Torres. “They’re not gaining weight, they’re having trouble concentrating in school or they’re wetting the bed frequently. In most cases, the surgery makes their sleeping problems and related issues go away.”
Did you know that sleep apnea can also occur in children?
Dr. Carlos Torre, director of sleep surgery at UHealth, discusses the symptoms of pediatric sleep apnea.