Snoring is common. Up to 10% of children snore. It is most common from 2 - 8 years of age.
Approximately 1 in 4 of children who snore suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea
Obstructive sleep apnoea refers to the narrowing of the airway during sleep which can cause a drop in oxygen levels or disruption of dreaming sleep (dreaming sleep is crucial for learning and feeling refreshed after sleep).
Repetitive events occurring during sleep have been shown to have a negative impact on a child's behaviour (typically hyperactive, impulsive or with poorer concentration), development and school performance. More severe cases can be associated with poor growth and strain on the heart.
Symptoms may include: loud snoring, pauses in your child breathing, struggling with their breathing in sleep, gasping / snorts, adopting an unusual position in sleep, mouth breathing, tiredness despite adequate sleep duration, challenging behaviour and learning difficulties.
There may be a history of other family members snoring. Obstructive sleep apnoea is more common in children who have big tonsils and enlarged adenoids. Obstructive sleep apnoea is also more common in children with medical conditions that affect the shape of their face / airway or muscle tone.
The best way to diagnose obstructive sleep apnoea is by having a sleep study.
The management of obstructive sleep apnoea will depend upon the child's age, the severity of the problem and whether they have any factors that increase their risk of airway obstruction. Treatments may range from medication (nasal steroid, montelukast), surgery (removal of tonsils and or adenoids), dental procedures, weight loss and CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure via a nasal mask).