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Snoring in Children

Snoring in Children - What it is

Snoring is caused by vibration or flapping of the tissues lining the upper passages. Many, if not most, children snore on occasion, and about 10% snore on most nights.

Loud and regular nightly snoring is often abnormal in an otherwise healthy child. About 1-3% of children not only snore, but also suffer from breathing problems during their sleep.

Primary snoring is snoring that is not associated with other more serious conditions such as obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), in which breathing is interrupted during sleep. OSA is characterised by episodes of complete or partial upper airway obstruction during sleep, resulting in gas exchange abnormalities and arousals, causing disrupted sleep.

Untreated OSA is associated with cardiovascular complications, impaired growth, and learning and behavioural problems. Early diagnosis and treatment may decrease such complications.

Snoring in Children - Symptoms

Snoring in Children - How to prevent?

Snoring in Children - Causes and Risk Factors

Snoring in most people is due to multiple factors, such as:

  • Large tonsils and adenoids
  • Relaxation of muscles, causing the walls of the upper airway to fall together and vibrate
  • Swelling of the tissue in the walls (e.g. from anatomical reasons, infection or injury), causing narrowing of the airway
  • Nasal blockage due to colds, nasal allergy or deformities of the nasal septum (the cartilage partition between the two sides of the nose

Large tonsils and adenoids are the most common cause of snoring and sleep apnoea in infants and children.

Another factor which can influence snoring is obesity.

Snoring in Children - Diagnosis

If your child has loud, regular snoring, you are advised to consult your physician, who may then refer your child to a Sleep Disorders Centre for a thorough evaluation.

Snoring in Children - Treatments

Treatment for snoring in children at KKHEffective treatment is available for almost all patients. The treatment of snoring is often a combination of medical and surgical options. The choice of therapy will depend on the underlying cause and the extent of the problem.


As nasal obstruction increases the frequency of snoring and sleep disordered breathing, your doctor may prescribe nasal sprays or oral medications to help your child breathe better through his nose during sleep.

For those diagnosed with sleep apnoea, Nasal CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) is used to supply pressurised air into the upper airway via a nasal mask. This keeps the upper airway open.


Surgical procedures for the treatment of snoring may include surgery of the nose, palate, jaw, tongue and/or neck, depending on the location of the tissues contributing to the snoring.

Certain nasal conditions such as deviated nasal septum and very large tonsils and adenoids may require assessment by the ENT surgeon.

Surgery to remove the tonsils and adenoids is the mainstay of surgical treatment for OSA in children.

Another procedure, radiofrequency thermal ablation of the inferior turbinates (structures in the nasal cavity that may cause nasal obstruction), stiffens and shrinks this nasal tissue and may additionally be used to treat snoring in certain children.

Useful suggestions

  • Obesity adds to the risk of snoring and apnoea. If your child is obese, his weight must be managed along with his treatment.
  • Sleep on the side and avoid sleeping on the back. Some snore, or snore heavily, only when sleeping on the back.

Snoring in Children - Preparing for surgery

Snoring in Children - Post-surgery care

Snoring in Children - Other Information

The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth