Dr David Lowinger MBBS FRACS Ear Nose & Throat Specialist Surgeon
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Children

Snoring & Sleep Apnoea

Snoring :: Sleep Apnoea

Snoring

Snoring is a common problem that occurs when your child is unable to breathe easily through the nose and mouth during sleep. The annoying sound that is created is because of the vibration of the tongue, upper throat, soft palate, uvula, enlarged tonsils and adenoids against each other. Snoring can sometimes be a sign of an underlying serious medical problem that needs to be treated.

Snoring in children may be because of several reasons; some of them include a stuffy nose caused by seasonal allergy, blocked nasal passages and airways because of cold or sinus infection, a deviated nasal septum, enlarged tonsils and adenoids. It is also a symptom of a sleep disorder known as sleep apnoea. Obesity in children can also cause snoring as a result of narrowing the air passages.

Some of the solutions that can be tried to stop snoring include wearing breathing strips across the nose, sleeping in a sideward position, keeping the top side of the bed tilted upwards, avoiding heavy meal just before going to bed. Further, if the problem continues, it is helpful to consult your doctor. Your doctor will examine child’s nose and throat to check for blocked nasal passages, swollen tonsils and adenoids.  A test will be ordered to check for sleep apnoea disorder. During this test, your child’s breathing pattern during sleep will be monitored using special equipments. It is non-invasive and does not cause any pain as your child will be asleep throughout the test.

The treatment is conservative and includes medications for allergy and nasal congestion, certain lifestyle changes such as diet modification, developing a regular pattern of sleep, and avoiding allergy triggers (pets, dust). Resolving the snoring problem can help your child breathe easily and sleep better.


Sleep Apnoea

The word “apnoea” means a short pause in the breathing pattern which is normal. Sometimes, there may be prolonged pause in breathing that may last for 20 seconds or longer causing oxygen levels in the body to drop and disturbed sleep. Sleep apnoea is a common cause of daytime inattentiveness and behavioural problems in children. Apart from symptoms of continuous loud snoring, there may be other symptoms such as poor weight gain, mouth breathing, sleep disturbances, and daytime cognitive problems such as aggressive behavior, hyperactivity. Obstructive sleep apnoea occurs commonly in children because of airway obstruction caused by enlarged tonsils and adenoids.

Obstructive sleep apnoea is diagnosed based on the child’s signs and symptoms. Further evaluation by a pediatric ENT specialist may involve a polysomnography or a pediatric sleep study.

The management of obstructive sleep apnoea includes treatment of the underlying medical conditions such as allergies and measures to rectify airway obstruction and improve air flow.

Surgical removal of the enlarged tonsils and adenoids may be done or a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) may be delivered to the child with the help of a nose mask worn while sleeping.

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Royal Australasian College of Surgeons The Australian Society Of Otolaryngology Head And Neck Surgery Australian New Zealand Society of Paediatric Otorhinolaryngology (ANZSPO) The University of New South Wales The University of Sydney Harvard Medical School

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