Snoring occurs because the airway is obstructed during sleep. Severe snoring is associated with repeated drops in oxygen levels during sleep, and may be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea.
Children who snore regularly may develop hyperactivity and attention problems, and may be misdiagnosed as having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder(A.D.H.D). They may be excessively sleepy during the day and be irritable. Studies show that children who snore regularly may have impaired memory, cognitive development, and lower scores on standardized tests.
A diagnosis of sleep disordered breathing in children can usually be made without performing a sleep study. Children who snore on a nightly basis, snore very loudly, or have witnessed gasping when sleeping are at risk. A video recording of the child snoring may be reviewed by the doctor to confirm the diagnosis of sleep disordered breathing. A child who only snores occasionally, because of nasal congestion due to a cold or allergies, is not at risk.
Snoring in children is almost always caused by enlarged adenoids, tonsils, or both. Treatment with a nasal steroid spray may be helpful. Definitive treatment involves removal of the adenoids and/or tonsils, an outpatient procedure with a generally brief recovery.