Noisy breathing in children

Noisy breathing in children: Snoring and Stridor

A newborn breathes more rapidly than an adult. This is due to the fact that lung capacity of a baby is less than adult. So to hold oxygen they need to breath in and out more often. This is the reason why babies and young children have higher respiratory rate than adults.

Some children present with abnormal sound during breathing.

There are two common types of noisy breathing -Snoring and Stridor.


What is Snoring?

Snoring in children is a sound due to upper airway obstruction. The commonest cause of snoring in children is enlargement of adenoids and tonsils referred to as Adenotonsillar Hypertrophy.

The degree of adenotonsillar hypertrophy is assessed with clinical examination. In some children this can lead to disturbed sleep and daytime hyperactivity. This is referred to as Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. Your child’s paediatrician will send to an ENT surgeon to confirm the diagnosis. Adenotonsillectomy surgery is the solution for obstructive sleep apnoea in children.


What is Stridor?

Stridor is a sound produced by turbulent airflow through a partially obstructed airway. There can be various types of stridor depending on the location and severity of airway narrowing. There can be acute causes of stridor like airway inflammation or infections. These are medically managed by Paediatricians.

The most common non acute cause of stridor in infants and children is Laryngomalacia.

In laryngomalacia, cartilages of upper larynx collapse inwards during taking breath in.This leads to obstruction.

Laryngomalacia is the commonest congenital laryngeal anomaly followed by vocal cord paralysis and subglottic stenosis. This is generally a self-limiting disease but when severe it may cause airway obstruction, feeding difficulty and failure to thrive.


How is the cause of noisy breathing diagnosed?

In most cases of noisy breathers, your child’s Pediatrician will decide whether an ENT opinion is required. A visit to ENT clinic will consist of consultation with otolaryngologist who will decide whether direct visualisation of your child’s airway is required.

Flexible fiber-optic laryngoscopy examination is performed as an out patient procedure in most of the children. It allows excellent visualisation of upper airway structures