Obstructed Breathing

Healthy, normal children breathe quietly through their nose during the day and do not snore or struggle to breathe at night.

Many children however with nasal obstruction, mouth breathing and snoring cope perfectly well and require no intervention.

In some however the blockage at night is sufficient to interfere with the normal pattern of sleep giving rise to poor quality sleep and a number of problems during the day. (Obstructive sleep apnoea) These may include poor behaviour, crankiness, tiredness and poor school performance. At night there may be persistent bed wetting.

The severity of the obstruction can usually be determined by a combination of a good story (history) and examination. A sleep study is helpful if doubt remains about the cause or severity of the obstruction.

Medical treatments include steroid nose sprays, antihistamines and nasal saline. Surgery usually involves adenoidectomy and/or tonsillectomy. Turbinate surgery, septal surgery, sinus surgery and palatoplasty are rarely required in children.