Clinical investigations from the RACP

Investigating the child who snores

Clinical investigations from the RACP

Investigating the child who snores

Arthur Teng

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.