Sleep Apnoea and Snoring in Children

What is Childhood Sleep Apnoea?

  • Sleep Apnoea or Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is a condition where a child repeatedly stops breathing during sleep
  • These episodes last from 10 seconds to a minute
  • Usually they occur because of an obstruction in the airways, most commonly due to big tonsils and/or adenoids

Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnoea in Children

At Night-time

  • Children with Sleep Apnoea almost always snore, struggle to breathe and have a restless sleep
  • There may be frequent pauses in breathing and snoring lasting between 10 seconds and a minute
  • The pauses may end with a gasping or choking noise and there may be a brief awakening as the child struggles to breathe
  • There may be night sweats, mouth breathing, sleeping in unusual sleeping positions and morning headaches

During the day

  • Children with sleep apnoea wake up feeling tired and unrefreshed
  • They may feed poorly and fail to gain weight and grow
  • Behaviour and learning problems during the day and poor performance at school may be the presentation
  • In the long-term, if untreated, sleep apnoea can cause heart problems and high blood pressure which may in severe cases be life threatening

Causes of Sleep Apnoea in Children

  • The most common cause of Sleep Apnoea in childhood is enlarged tonsils in the back of the throat and/or enlarged adenoids in the back of the nose
  • Obesity is a risk factor for sleep apnoea in children, with snoring and other symptoms of sleep related obstructed breathing being more common in obese than in non-obese children
  • Children with certain medical conditions associated with weak muscles or low muscle tone and enlarged tongue, such as Downs Syndrome
  • Cranio-facial abnormalities which affect the tongue or airways, for example very small jaws or flat faces

What should I do next?

Call us on (02) 9252 6144 to find out how best to have your child assessed and what the treatment options and choices are for you and your child.