Dr Mark Rosenthal


Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine

also specialist in Food Allergies & Disorders of Sleep

A | A | A

T: 0207 351 8754

E: s.harvey@rbht.nhs.uk

A:The Royal Brompton Hospital, London, SW3 6NP

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Snoring in children is often caused by enlarged tonsils or adenoids at the back of the throat, so it should go away once they have been removed. However, there can be other reasons for snoring so it is still possible for your child to snore without their tonsils or adenoids, especially if they also have sleep apnoea that is affecting their breathing at night.

little boy snoring

Common Causes of Snoring in Children

Snoring happens when there is some kind of blockage making it harder for air to exit through the nose as we breathe out. A stuffy nose can often cause snoring because it is temporarily narrowing or blocking the nostrils. If your child snores regularly then it is more likely to be caused by a permanent blockage, such as large tonsils or adenoids at the back of the throat. Snoring can be a sign of sleep apnoea in children, which can also cause pauses in breathing. Sleep apnoea happens when the throat relaxes during sleep, becoming narrower, and restricting airflow. Sometimes it is a combination of these two issues that is responsible for snoring in children. However, there can also be other reasons for snoring, such as a deviated septum, enlarged turbinates (bony parts of the nose) or other blockages in the nose. Recurring snoring can also be a sign of allergies in some children, as these can narrow the airways in a similar way to a cold.

Tonsillectomy or Adenoidectomy for Snoring

When snoring is linked to enlarged tonsils or adenoids, surgery may be recommended to remove them. Removing the tonsils or adenoids is a relatively straightforward procedure and it can be very effective at treating snoring. Surgery can be particularly beneficial when the problem goes beyond snoring and is associated with breathing problems. Sleep apnoea in children can reduce the quality of sleep, leading to behavioural and educational problems during the day. Interrupted breathing can also have serious consequences if it isn’t treated. However, if your child’s breathing is not affected then it can be better to wait and see if they grow out of snoring as they get older. As the throat grows larger, the tonsils or adenoids may not cause blockages any more.

What If My Child Still Snores After Surgery?

If your child has surgery for snoring then it should help them to breathe easier and sleep more quietly. In most cases, the problem will be solved once your child has fully recovered from the operation. It can take about a month for the full effects to be felt. However, children can still snore for other reasons, for example if they have a cold or are affected by allergies. It is also possible for sleep apnoea in children to causing snoring and breathing problems even without the tonsils or adenoids as the throat can still close up during sleep. If your child continues to snore after a tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy then it is important to talk to your doctor as they may need more treatment for sleep apnoea.

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