Worried About Your Child's Snoring and Mouth Breathing? Here's What You Need to Know
Does your child snore? Do you notice a pattern of noisy, mouth breathing? A Specialist ENT Surgeon from Mediclinic shared some professional advice
8 November 2022
Snoring and mouth breathing are common complaints in children.
However, persistent and loud snoring and mouth breathing in children are not normal and need to be investigated and corrected.
Dr. Ranjit Rajan, Specialist ENT Surgeon at Mediclinic, shared his professional advice regarding snoring or noisy breathing in children.
Causes of snoring and mouth-breathing in children
The causes for snoring and mouth-breathing in children are varied.
Snoring is just an indicator that there is some degree of obstruction in the upper respiratory passage, that is, in the nose and/or throat. The underlying cause has to be determined. Very often, it is due to enlargement of a normal tissue called adenoids which is located at the back of the nose.
Although it normally enlarges in all children around the age of two to three years, in some children it produces significant nasal obstruction and snoring.
Enlargement of the tonsils in the throat may be present along with this. This can also add to obstruction and snoring. In addition to snoring, enlargement of the adenoids and tonsils interferes significantly with the child’s sleep and can lead to interrupted and obstructed breathing.
Risks of untreated breathing and snoring problems in children
An important adverse effect of enlarged adenoids is its effect on the ear. Many of these children with snoring become prone for recurrent ear infections.
Some of these infections cause severe ear pain and discharge and, hence, come to the parents’ notice. Unfortunately, some do not cause pain or ear discharge and only silently affect the child’s hearing by producing fluid accumulation inside the ears, leading to inattentiveness on the part of the child.
If overlooked and not treated and corrected promptly, this can lead to serious, long-term issues with the ears and hearing that are difficult to correct and, also, to a serious, complicated type of ear infection which is not easy to treat.
Difficulty to eat and swallow
Many children with snoring and mouth breathing also find it difficult to eat well as it is hard to chew and swallow when the nasal passages are persistently blocked. These children are often slow and reluctant eaters.
An adult can probably understand the difficulty these children silently suffer if they try to swallow with their nose pinched!
Persistent nasal obstruction due to adenoid enlargement can also lead to protrusion of the teeth and related dental issues.
Can affect sleep
Sleep deprivation and disturbance at night leads to day time sleepiness, inattentiveness and impaired school performance, worsened further by attendant hearing issues which these children are prone to have.
"It is an unfortunate and widespread misconception among some parents that significantly enlarged and troublesome adenoids need not be surgically removed 'as it will anyway shrink with age in a few years'," said Dr. Ranjit Rajan.
Although the adenoids do shrink with age in a number of instances, by the time this happens in a few years’ time, the damage would have been done - the child undergoes considerable misery and suffering with a persistent blocked nose, breathing difficulty, difficulty to eat well, recurrent and prolonged ear and nose infections (and attendant antibiotic courses) as well as significant sleep disturbance. And, moreover, during the course of this period, irreparable adverse effects on the ears and hearing might also develop.
Enlarged adenoids and tonsils are, by no means, the sole cause of snoring in children. Many children have nasal allergies which cause persistent nasal obstruction and leads to snoring. Other causes include some forms of polyps in the nose, nose and sinus infections (yes, children do get sinus infections!) childhood obesity and, less often, some disorders in the larynx (voice box) and congenital facial deformities.
Treatment for snoring and mouth breathing in Dubai
A proper ENT evaluation is needed to evaluate the cause of snoring and mouth breathing as well as the recurrent ear and throat infections these cause.
A good number of patients will respond to proper medical treatment and surgery may not be needed in many cases.
However, if unavoidable, the child’s suffering can be cured by a simple, safe and commonly done operation to remove the offending adenoids and/or the tonsils which is done as a day care procedure not needing overnight stay in the hospital.