Snoring & Sleep Apnoea

Snoring is common in children. This is caused usually by a relative blockage of the airway. This sets about vibrations during breathing resulting in snoring. The more obstructed the passage is the louder the snoring.

Snoring is made worse by infections and allergies. In some cases, there is structural issues like enlarged turbinates (tissues in the nose), large adenoids and tonsils.

Loud and regular nightly snoring is often abnormal in otherwise healthy children. 1 to 3 % of children suffers from breathing problem during sleep. If this is associated with gasping, choking, abnormal sleep positions and restless sleep, your child may have sleep apnoea.

Obstruction to the air passages results in insufficient air to the lungs. This leads to a pause in breathing for seconds to as long as a minute. The brain detects the decrease oxygen in the blood and increase the effort top breath. This results in the child gaspings and snorting, waking up to breathe. The interruption in sleep means the child does not get good quality sleep and is likely to be tired, lethargic in the day. Undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea may contribute to daytime sleepiness and behavioral problems including difficulties at school. .

The commonest cause in children are allergic rhinitis, sinusitis and enlarged adenoids and tonsils. Correction of the underlying conditions result in reversing the snoring and sleep apnoea.

During the night, a child with sleep apnoea may

  • Snore loudly and on a regular basis
  • Have pauses, gasps, and snorts and actually stop breathing.  The snorts or gasps may waken them and disrupt their sleep.
  • Be restless or sleep in abnormal positions with their head in unusual positions
  • Sweat heavily during sleep

During the day, a child with sleep apnoea may

  • Have behavioral, school and social problems
  • Be difficult to wake up
  • Have headaches during the day, but especially in the morning
  • Be irritable, agitated, aggressive, and cranky
  • Be so sleepy during the day that they actually fall asleep or daydream
  • Speak with a nasal voice and breathe regularly through the mouth


If you suspect your child may have sleep apnoea, contact our clinic for an assessment.