Skip to main content

Children who snore and stop breathing at night should see a physician.


​My 6-year-old son snores and sometimes stops breathing while sleeping. What causes this?

“Snoring is not normal for children and needs to be investigated, and if your child stops breathing for a period each night, you should have him examined by a doctor,” says Ali Al-Himyary, M.D., M.P.H., a board-certified physician and medical director of Kelsey-Seybold Clinic’s Sleep Center. “Although somewhat rare in children, what you’ve observed could be caused by obstructive sleep apnea. This can result from enlarged tonsils or adenoids; a small or constricted airway; or a misaligned jaw.”

Symptoms

“While sleeping, children may be restless or choke after having stopped breathing for a period,” Dr. Al-Himyary explains. “Daytime complications of childhood sleep disturbances include hyperactivity and poor performance in school.”

Diagnosis

“It’s unlikely that a parent can accurately diagnose the cause of a child’s sleep disorder. Your child should be seen by a physician – preferably a sleep specialist,” he advises. “If he were my patient, I would perform a physical examination and, if warranted, refer him for evaluation at our Sleep Center.”
Dr. Al-Himyary evaluates and treats patients of all ages and has recommended studies on those as young as 3 years at Kelsey-Seybold’s Sleep Center.

Treatment

“The most common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea in children is surgery to remove adenoids and tonsils. Other treatments may include lifestyle changes and machines to help regulate breathing,” Dr. Al-Himyary says. “It’s important to get a medical assessment and the proper treatment.”