UCLA Campus    |   UCLA Health    |   School of Medicine Translate:
UCLA Health It Begins With U

Health Tips for Parents

2009 Issues

Does My Child Snore Too Much?


Girl Asleep on DeskSnoring occurs when air flows past relaxed tissues in the throat, causing the tissues to vibrate with each breath, creating hoarse or harsh sounds, notes Pornchai Tirakitsoontorn, M.D., clinical director of the UCLA Division of Pediatric Pulmonology. “About 20 percent of healthy children snore occasionally and 7 to 10 percent of children snore every night,” he says. “Snoring usually starts at 2 to 6 years of age, during which time some children’s tonsils and adenoids are enlarged.” Snoring can also occur if the child has a large tongue, low or thick soft palate, or an elongated uvula, the soft tissue that hangs down from the rear portion of the throat.

“Snoring can sometimes be remedied by treating any nasal congestion or obstruction, sleeping on the side for older children, or losing weight if the child is overweight,” advises Dr. Tirakitsoontorn. “But loud and regular nightly snoring could be abnormal in otherwise healthy children and may be a sign of more serious conditions.”

About 2 percent of children snore because they suffer from sleep apnea, a condition that causes pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while sleeping, Dr. Tirakitsoontorn explains. The most common type of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS), occurs when the airway has collapsed and the lungs do not receive sufficient oxygen. Contributing factors to sleep apnea are obesity, asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease, or the physical structure of the face or jaw, as well as some neurological conditions. The disruptive sleep patterns caused by OSAS can lead to daytime sleepiness, impaired growth, behavioral problems or cardiovascular problems.

Treatment Options

Boy in consult “Parents should seek further evaluation from their physician if they suspect their child has OSAS. An overnight sleep study (nocturnal polysomnography) may also be recommended,” states Dr. Tirakitsoontorn. “Surgical treatment, such as removing the tonsils and adenoids (adenotonsillectomy), is the most commonly performed treatment. In severe cases, children may be treated with CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) or BiPAP (bi-level positive airway pressure), a machine that blows air into the nose via a nose mask, keeping the airway open and unobstructed.

Consult a physician if snoring is accompanied by:

  • Disrupted sleep / sleep restlessness
  • Paused breathing followed by snorting or gasping for air
  • Sweating heavily during sleep
  • Poor weight gain or overweight
  • Difficulty waking up
  • Morning headaches
  • Daytime sleepiness, irritability, aggressiveness or hyperactivity
  • Bedwetting that is not outgrown at a typical age

This information is provided courtesy of the pediatricians at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. UCLA Health pediatricians are conveniently located in your neighborhood. In addition to our Children’s Health Center in Westwood, we have offices in Brentwood, Manhattan Beach, Santa Monica and West Los Angeles. All health and health-related information contained in this publication is intended to be general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for a visit with a healthcare professional.

Add a comment

Please note that we are unable to respond to medical questions through the comments feature below. For information about health care, or if you need help in choosing a UCLA physician, please contact UCLA Physician Referral Service (PRS) at 1-800-UCLA-MD1 (1-800-825-2631) and ask to speak with a referral nurse. Thank you!

comments powered by Disqus