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Clinical investigations from the RACP

Investigating the child who snores

Arthur Teng

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Abstract

Although snoring is common in children, it can be a sign of a serious sleep disorder and should be investigated.

Key Points

  • Routine childhood health screening should include questions about sleep and snoring.
  • Snoring is a cardinal symptom of obstructive sleep apnoea but can be soft and sound like heavy breathing in sleeping children.
  • Snoring most nights, pauses in breathing during sleep and an increase in work of breathing are the symptoms pointing most strongly towards a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnoea in children.
  • Children with obstructive sleep apnoea are often hyperactive and have difficult behaviour during the day. They may also have poor attention and/or poor concentration.
  • Polysomnography is the gold standard for the investigation of sleep disorders in children and adults.
  • Adenotonsillectomy is the treatment of choice for most children with obstructive sleep apnoea.

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