What is Snoring?

Snoring describes a noise made during sleep. Depending on the individual it can vary in terms of volume and intensity. Snoring in children can sound the same as adult snoring but is often described as loud breathing.  Around 15% of children snore and for most of these it is not a problem

Anatomy of snoring

Snoring is caused when the soft tissue in your nose or throat vibrate as air flows to the lungs. When a person sleeps muscles in the pharynx, part of the throat, relax and narrow. The sound made by these vibrations is called snoring.

What are the causes of snoring?

In children the most common causes of snoring are:

  • Having large tonsils and adenoids
  • Hayfever
  • Obesity
  • Craniofacial abnormality e.g small receding jaw
  • A floppy  larynx

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea is a respiratory condition where a child will stop breathing intermittently during sleep.Each episode may last from 5 to 20 seconds and occur several times an hour.

What are the symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea?

Your child may have Obstructive Sleep Apnoea if

  • They snore or have loud breathing while asleep
  • Breath mostly through their mouth at night
  • Stop breathing, gasp or choke when asleep
  • Toss and turn a lot during sleep
  • Get sweaty when they are asleep
  • Sleep with their neck extended

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea leads to interrupted sleep and can cause the following daytime symptoms in children

  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Behavioural problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hyperactivity
  • Poor appetite
  • Morning headaches

When should I take my snoring child to see a doctor?

If you child has any of  the symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea it is a good idea to take them to your GP.Your GP will take a history and do a full physical examination and can then decide whether a referral to a specialist is necessary.

How is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Diagnosed?

There are two ways in which Obstructive Sleep Apnoea is diagnosed

  1. Overnight Oximetry Test - Children with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea often have abnormal oxygen levels during sleep and this can be picked up by simply measuring oxygen levels with a probe attaches to a hand or a foot. This test can be performed in you home but will not be suitable in all cases.
  2. Sleep Study - Also called a Polysomnography. This test involves an overnight stay in hospital. Your child will be wired up to several monitors which will measure your child’s breathing, sleep and oxygen/carbon dioxide levels. This test is not generally painful or uncomfortable for the child and is considered the gold standard test for Obstructve Sleep Apnoea.

What are the treatments for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea?

If your child is diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea the following treatment options may be discussed

  • Removal of Adenoids±Tonsils - This is the most common treatment in children and results in complete resolution of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea in over 90% of cases.
  • Continuous Positive Airways Pressure (CPAP) - This is a machine which pumps air continuously through a mask.The machine is only used a night.
  • Nasal Steroid Spray - May be helpful in mild cases