About snoring in children

Your child might snore – or snore more loudly – if he has a cold or a blocked nose. This is because colds can narrow your child’s airways. If your child has large tonsils and/or adenoids, he might also be prone to snoring.

If your child’s snoring goes on for a long time, it might be a sign of obstructive sleep apnoea, especially if your child also breathes through her mouth or seems to gasp, choke or struggle for breath. Obstructive sleep apnoea is less common than snoring.

Snoring is common. Up to 15% of children snore.

Symptoms of snoring

Aside from the snoring sound, you can look out for mouth breathing, signs of your child gasping or struggling for breath, and restless, interrupted sleep.

Does your child need to see a doctor about snoring?

You should take your child to the GP if:

  • his snoring has been going on for a long time
  • he’s tired or falls asleep during the day
  • you’re worried about your child’s snoring.

Tests for snoring

Your GP will look in your child’s throat to check out her tonsils. The GP might send your child to an ear, nose and throat specialist if there’s a chance that your child’s adenoids or tonsils or a nose obstruction is causing the snoring, or if the GP thinks that obstructive sleep apnoea might be the problem.

The GP might recommend that your child uses an oximeter. This tool measures your child’s oxygen levels during the night to find out whether there are any times when he stops breathing.

Treatment for snoring

Snoring that isn’t related to sleep apnoea and other conditions is usually more of a nuisance than a danger. Encouraging your child to sleep on her side, rather than her back, might help with this kind of snoring.

If a blocked nose is causing the snoring, the GP might get your child to try a corticosteroid nasal spray.

If your child has recently gained some weight, your GP might suggest a gentle exercise and weight loss program.

If your child’s snoring is linked to obstructive sleep apnoea caused by enlarged adenoids or tonsils or a nose obstruction, your GP might refer you to a surgeon or ear, nose and throat specialist for advice about having surgery.