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Why does my child snore?

Alan Adler, MD  

Alan Adler, MD, is a pediatric pulmonologist practicing at Cardon Children's Medical Center. You can reach him at (480) 614-6655.

Question: My son snores when he sleeps.  Is this normal for children or could there be something wrong?

Answer: Snoring in children is very common. It is estimated that up to 25 percent of all children snore. People snore when air moving through their throat is not flowing smoothly. It is like water moving through a narrowed part of a river, it’s noisy. People tend to snore at night because all their muscles including the ones in their throat tend to relax when they sleep.

Most often snoring is not a problem but it can be. Snoring may be a sign that your child is not getting enough air when they sleep. It is then referred to as Sleep Apnea. The consequences of this besides not getting a good night’s sleep can be frequent headaches, being irritable and moody, or not being able to do one’s best at school, at sports or at work.  Severe snoring or airway obstruction can be the cause of learning or behavior problems and even chronic lung and heart problems.

The most common reason that younger children between the ages of 2 and 8 years snore is because their tonsils or adenoids are too big for their throat. As their facial bones grow, the tonsils and adenoids shrink creating room in their throats for the air to get through. There are certainly other reasons children snore. People snore when they have a cold, when they haven’t sleep in a while and are sleeping very deeply. Snoring can be due to being over-weight, a deviated nasal septum, a small jaw and nasal allergies.

If you have concerns, you should discuss your child’s symptoms with his/her doctor. It can sometimes be helpful if you bring an audio or video tape of your child sleeping. There a variety of tests that can help your doctor determine whether your child’s snoring is a problem. The best part is that the problem is usually easily fixed and in many cases can leave you with a much happier youngster.    

Page Last Modified: 08/28/2013
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