Snoring & Sleep Apnoea in Children
Many parents have experienced seeing and hearing their child with noisy breathing at night. If the blockage in breathing is significant enough then the snoring can become very loud. Occasionally a child may be so blocked that they stop breathing and some seconds may pass until they wake up enough to start breathing again. The oxygen levels may go down and a child may need to wake themselves up to breathe again. This is called obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) and results in a poor quality night’s sleep for that child having consequences for their behaviour, learning, concentration and energy levels.
Children naturally have small throats but also have large tonsils and adenoids due to their immature immune system. The vast majority of children with OSA have enlarged tonsils or adenoids or both. There are other rare causes of OSA in children but these and the severity of the sleep apnoea can be evaluated using a version of a ‘sleep study’ which is used to make a number of measurements including a child’s oxygen levels and pulse rate to see how these are effected during sleep. An adenotonsillectomy may be offered if there is evidence of sleep apnoea and these are found to be the cause.