Does your child frequently snore? Are the snores loud and disturbing? Are the snores interrupted by pauses in breathing?

All these are signs of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). It is a common problem in children. The stoppages of breathing which can last from a few seconds to a minute are caused by airway being partially or completely blocked during sleep. This causes the oxygen levels to fall and the brain alerts the body to breathe. The child would then snort or gasp for air, and is aroused from sleep frequently. This result in insufficient quality sleep at night and the child is likely to be sleepy and easily irritable during the day.

OSA may contribute to:

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Headaches
  • Mouth breathing
  • Heart and lung problems
  • Bedwetting
  • Behavioural problems
  • Learning difficulties in school
  • Slow reflexes and increased accidents

Some kids are mistakenly diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) while they are really suffering from OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnoea). These two problems can also occur at the same time. Sleep apnoea can make the ADHD symptoms worse.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnoea

  1. Long pauses in breathing (10 seconds or more) while sleeping
  2. Gasps, snorts or wakes up after a pause in breathing
  3. Recurrent loud snoring (more than 3 times a week, for months)
  4. Difficulty in waking up, even if it seems that he has had sufficient sleep
  5. Problem sleeping and restless sleep
  6. Chronic mouth breathing both day and night due to large tonsils and/or adenoids
  7. Excessive sleepiness, irritability, or hyperactivity during the day or poor school performance
  8. Perspires heavily during sleep as more energy is needed to breathe
  9. Often coughs and chokes at night
  10. Unexplained weight loss or poor weight gain
  11. Speaks with a nasal voice
  12. Has not outgrown bedwetting at a typical age
  13. Has dry mouth or headaches in the morning

The common causes in children sleep apnoea are enlarged tonsils and adenoids in the upper airway. Tonsils and adenoids may become enlarged from infections and allergies.

The symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea may resemble other problems or medical conditions. Always consult your child’s doctor for a diagnosis.


OSA can be treated. If you suspect something to be unusual, let our ENT specialist Dr YT Pang do an evaluation. The child could be screened for snoring and a diagnosis to be conducted to determine if the child is experiencing normal primary snoring or obstructive sleep apnoea.

Normal primary snoring is caused by allergies and sinusitis. If treatment does not relieve the problems, a sleep study will be arranged. We offer hospital-based and home-based sleep study for your convenience.

Once it is determined that it is sleep apnoea, treatment options will be discussed. Every child is different. Our ENT specialist Dr YT Pang is experienced and uses a multidisciplinary approach to ensure the right treatment for your child’s specific symptoms and circumstances.