Q. Our 3-year-old son has started snoring at night. Sometimes he sounds like he’s having a hard time catching his breath. He seems tired during the day. Is there anything we can do to help him?
Snoring is common in children, and most snoring does not cause any problems. However, about 2 percent of children have more serious snoring that needs to be treated.
If a child has intermittent snoring associated with colds or nightly gentle snoring, there is most likely no reason for concern.
On the other hand, chronic, loud, harsh, disruptive snoring is more worrisome. Some potential causes include enlarged tonsils and adenoids, allergies and obesity. The first step is to identify and treat any of these underlying conditions.
Snoring can also be a sign of a more serious problem called obstructive sleep apnea. Children with obstructive sleep apnea may gasp or have breathing pauses during sleep. Other signs include daytime sleepiness, behavioral problems and attention problems.
Occasionally, children will need to undergo something called a “sleep study” as part of the evaluation for snoring and sleep apnea. Some children may need to be seen by an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat surgeon) to have their tonsils and adenoids evaluated and removed if necessary.