Causes of Snoring & Disturbed Sleep in Children

Why does my child snore and is it harmful?

Snoring on its own may not be harmful but could be a sign obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) which is a more serious condition affecting breathing during sleep.

What is OSA in children and why does it happen?

OSA refers to obstruction of breathing during sleep. It can be due to a number of causes but common ones include nasal allergy (which can block the nose) and large tonsils and adenoids. Other causes include obesity, and certain conditions affecting the voice box, face shape or muscle tone.

What are the conditions associated with OSA in children?

Obstructed breathing during sleep can cause daytime tiredness, irritability, behavioral problems, and poor academic performance. Conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have been associated with OSA. OSA can sometimes contribute to bed-wetting and impaired growth. More serious effects include excessive strain on the heart and lungs.

Treatment for Snoring & Disturbed Sleep in Children

What can be done about snoring & disturbed sleep in children?

Sometimes, allergies need to be tested for and treated. A nasal spray or other medication may be required.

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If the tonsils and adenoids are enlarged, surgery to remove them may be beneficial. Studies show that removing large tonsils and adenoids can normalize breathing in children with OSA. Surgery can be performed safely with minimal or no bleeding with devices such as the Coblator® wand which Dr. Lau is experienced with. The procedure is performed as day surgery or with an overnight stay.

The tonsils can be seen easily through the mouth but the adenoids may require examination through the nose with a special flexible telescope, or by using an x-ray. Sometimes the adenoids are examined at the time of surgery if the tonsils are going to be removed.

If the diagnosis of OSA needs to be conformed, a sleep study can be performed which usually requires an overnight stay in hospital. Other treatments will depend on the cause and Dr. Lau will discuss these with you.

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