39 answers

3 1/2 Year Old Difficulty Breathing While Sleeping

My 3 1/2 year old son has recently developed difficulty breathing while he sleeps. He will gasp for breath, stop breathing for a few seconds, snorts, snores very loudly. I am worried that this is disturbing his sleep. He has begun to wake up several times a night -- usually asks for a drink and then goes back to bed but in the morning he looks like he hasn't slept. He is beginning to develop dark circles under his eyes and I am just really worried about him. He doesn't have a stuffy nose or a cold and I have even caught him breathing really heavily through his mouth during the day, just looking at a book or playing a game. Does anyone have any advice or experienced this type of thing with their child? I plan to take him to the pediatrician if it doesn't change soon.
Thanks!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you all for your responses. We went to the ENT today and they will be removing his tonsils and adenoids in a couple of weeks. I'm so thankful I took the advice of all the mom's who have been through similar situations -- the doctor thinks this will really help both his sleeping and his growth.

Featured Answers

You need to take him to doctor now. He could be having respiratory issues, or sleep apnea. My father has this and he now uses a machine at night to help him breath. He sleeps so much better with the machine. IF the doctor dismisses this please seek a second opinion.

2 moms found this helpful

S., it sounds like sleep apnea. You should take him to his ped and get a sleep study done as soon as possible. Believe it or not, this is common in small children.

1 mom found this helpful

S.,
Go ahead and take him to the Pediatrician. He could have enlarged adenoids or could be developing asthma. He could also be reacting allergically to something in his space. If it is already affecting his sleep and how he looks he should be seen now. This is definitely abnormal.
I am an RN who worked with Asthmatic children. He should be evaluated ASAP.
A.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

You need to take him to doctor now. He could be having respiratory issues, or sleep apnea. My father has this and he now uses a machine at night to help him breath. He sleeps so much better with the machine. IF the doctor dismisses this please seek a second opinion.

2 moms found this helpful

This sounds like classic sleep apnea! Take him to the ENT (we go to Dr Glen Medders - ###-###-#### - and he is awesome!) My son had these same symptoms at 2 1/2 yrs and for months I worried and fretted about it! Finally, I realized (after MUCH research!) that it was sleep apnea and he has his tonsils and adenoids out just before he turned three and within a few weeks he was TOTALLY fine!! It truly changed our world! Don't wait- this is serious but can be fixed!! Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

My son had the same issues, with constant ear infections. He was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. His extra large tonsils and enormous adenoids were removed in the summer (and tubes placed in his ears again) and he has been like a new boy - no more snoring all DAY and night, no more mouth breathing, and he sleeps well now. He also hasn't been sick since. He also started wetting the bed around the same time this all came to a head, which unfortunately hasn't stopped. Better to resolve it sooner rather than later. I was really hesitant about doing the surgery, but decided to go for it and it has improved his quality of life dramatically. My little brother had the same issues, but no one ever suggested having those things done (except for the tubes - and he still had ear infections in his late teens).

1 mom found this helpful

Hi S.,

I agree with Jancey that you need to get to the bottom of this now. You said he has most of his difficulty breathing while sleeping. Do you use Chlorine Bleach on his bedding? A lot of detergents have chlorine bleach as an ingredient and it is a known respiratory toxin as well as a neurological one. It has also been linked to SIDS.

No matter what you find out from the doctor, you need to detox your house and your son's little body. Other things besides chlorine bleach can cause these type problems as well and can simply be removed to improve his health. Johnson and Johnson Baby Shampoo has Quaternium-15 in it that releases formaldehyde and can cause breathing problems, neurological issues and even cause cancer. If baby shampoo has something in it this dangerous, think of all the other things in your home that can hurt him.

My website www.go2harmony.healthyhometour.com can give you some guidance as to how much you have in your house that could be affecting him. You can also find out who I am and why I do what I do from my squidoo site below. Environmental toxins are slowly poisoning us all. Our children are sooo much more susceptible because of their small size. If you'd like more information let me know. I'd love to help.

Regards,

M.
www.squidoo.com/ifyourbabycouldtalk

1 mom found this helpful

Agree you need to have him looked at, our son had apnea due to enlarged tonsils/adenoids. He had them removed around the age of 5 and it improved his sleeping dramatically. It could be other things as well- allergies, asthma, narrow nasal passages etc...I would also add if you do not get an adequate response on the first trip to the doctor you should always request a second opinion.

1 mom found this helpful

Those are the classic symptoms of sleep apnea. My dad has it and I've heard kids can get it too. It would be good to get him treated for it as it will affect his health as he grows older -- if that's what he has. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

I agree with the others. Take him in today for a sleep APNEA check. The doctor should refer you to a sleep clinic where they do a sleep study. My daughter was a premmie and had sleep APNEA and my father and I both have had sleep APNEA machines. I was able to get off of mine after I had my tonsils removed.

If your not sure what sleep APNEA is I recommend going to WebMD and looking it up. It is serious and needs attention ASAP.

1 mom found this helpful

I would get this checked out immediately. It sounds as if he might a form of sleep apnea, which can be dangerous. Good luck and I hope you get everything worked out.

1 mom found this helpful

I would definitely take him to the pediatrician asap. It sounds like something that should be checked out right away for possible sleep apnea or another breathing disorder.

1 mom found this helpful

I would make the appt. as soon as possible. It could be nothing ,but I knew a girl who had some sort of sleep disorder where she would stop breathing when she got to the last stage of sleep.It is controlled now. I hope this is not the case for your little guy.

1 mom found this helpful

Another poster said take him to dr tomorrow...NO take him today. Peds have walk in times in the AM I'd have him there first thing. You don't want to play around with breathing problems in children of any age.

1 mom found this helpful

It sounds as though your son may have sleep apnea, I recently had my daughter tested and there was an infant being tested at the same time. I didn't know this could happen so early but it does. May be something to look into.

1 mom found this helpful

S.,
Go ahead and take him to the Pediatrician. He could have enlarged adenoids or could be developing asthma. He could also be reacting allergically to something in his space. If it is already affecting his sleep and how he looks he should be seen now. This is definitely abnormal.
I am an RN who worked with Asthmatic children. He should be evaluated ASAP.
A.

1 mom found this helpful

sleep apnea people can die from this please call your doctor today and talk to him about it

1 mom found this helpful

Schedule an appointment with your pediatrician today. This sounds really serious.

1 mom found this helpful

S., Please take him to a doctor tomorrow! If not sooner! It could be something as simple as sleep apnea, narrow nasal passages, anything like that. If it interferes with good sleeping habits or causes any kind of oxygen deprivation it can cause bigger problems the longer you wait. Does anyone in the family have a history of asthma?? Have you noticed it increasing when he is active or has his activity decreased lately??? I don't want to scare you because as I said, it could be something simple, but if he is having the trouble you described, me as a nurse and mom would say go to the doctor. He needs to be evaluated. I certainly hope for the best for you! Again, I may be out of line, my own son was born with a heart defect so I am a bit over protective....take care

1 mom found this helpful

I don't know if this is even possible, but it sounds like sleep apnea. My husband (who is a nurse) has this, but I don't know if young children get it or not. My husband has to use a machine and if he goes to sleep without it, he will not be rested the next day. I would definitely go to a peditrician soon, because you do stop breathing with sleep apnea and it is not good for the heart/brain. I hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful

I had my 4 year-olds tonsils and adnoids removed and the 'sleep apnea' stopped and she was able to breathe smoothly throughout the night. And she had been snoring the roof off of the house too -- and that stopped immediately the night after her surgery. Worked for us! Good Luck

1 mom found this helpful

S., it sounds like sleep apnea. You should take him to his ped and get a sleep study done as soon as possible. Believe it or not, this is common in small children.

1 mom found this helpful

Sounds like sleep apnea, which can be very dangerous, as they stop breathing for short periods. Please take him to the pedi as soon as possible.

1 mom found this helpful

I was nine before my school realized that I had 60% hearing loss in both ears and my mother took me to a specialist and they put tubes in my ears and removed my adenoids. I struggle several years with not being able to breath through my nose. I would eat with my mouth open every time I ate and I slept with my mouth open every time I slept. It definately sounds like sever adenoid problems to me and the sooner you get him to a specialist, the better for you both. It works like a miracle. Good luck and I hope this helps!!!!

Have you considered having his tonsils and aednoids out? My son, now 7, had his taken out @ age 2, he would wake up screaming because he would stop breathing, and he snored horribly!!! The snoring and stopping breathing stopped immediately after he had the procedure done, it's well worth the trip to the dr. and persuing!!

This is not normal, nor benign. Please take this kid to a pediatric pulmonologist ASAP. the longer you wait, the more damage is being done!
M.

I would recommend an appt with an ENT. My son at 20 months old was doing the same thing. His tonsils were a 3 out of 4 and had to be removed along with the adenoids. He went from sleeping 1-1.5 hours at a time to only getting up once at night. If your insurance allows it you can just make the appt or ask your pediatrician to recommend an ENT for you.

I think you should bring him into see a pediatrician asap.
He may have swollen adenoids/tonsils/uvula that is interferring with his ability to breath or some upper airway swelling/nares/ nasorpharynx issues, even possibly a deviation of his septum.
Make sure they do look carefully in his ears, nose and throat, write down the symptoms, pattern and history of when it started, before you go. This way you can tell the MD everything without worrying you will forget something when you are distracted .

Let us know how things turned out.

P.S. Health care professional with a 5 yr old boy and 1 yr old girl :)
Good luck.

Hi S.,

My son had similar issues when he was one. Both of his tonsils and adenoids were severey enarged. He had to have his adenoids removed at 16 months but they wanted to wait unti he was 2 1/2 to remove his tonsils because the risk of bleeding was so great in a baby his age. They couldn't wait anymore so he had his tonsils removed at exactly 2 1/2. He's now 3 1/2 and doing much better, he still has some other issue such as reflux, asthma and some sleep apnea but overall doing great. they had to do an x-ray to see his adnoids. Hope that helps. It took us awhile to get someone to listen to us. If these things continue he can also develop sinus and ear infections. Hope this helps!

I agree that you should take him to the doctor. But I also wanted to recommend either cranial osteopathy ( www.cranialacademy.com would help you to find a practitioner) or craniosacral therapy ( www.iahp.com would help you to find a therapist) to help open up his nasal passages.

I know cranial osteopathy ended my son's headaches and my daughter's ear infections. CranioSacral therapy helped to open up my nasal passages. It is a very gentle therapy and my daughter had it done at 18 months of age while I read to her (to keep her from being bored).

Good luck.

I'd definitely mention this to his doctor soon. It could be sleep apnea, enlarged tonsils or adenoids or asthma. My asthma acts up at night. You might try having him sleep sitting in an upright position to see if it helps until you can solve this dilemma.

Sounds like he may have sleep apnea. That could be serious and nothing to play around with.
Take him to a sleep diagnostic technician and let them do a sleep study to find out what is going on.

sounds like sleep apnea (?) I'd have that checked out

Hi S.,
Noticed your posting today. I grew up with asthma and my older son (4) develops asthma around pets and has the same trouble during a bad cold. I would look for triggers in his room as far as allergens, home ventilation cleaning, allergenic coverings for pillows or the mattress, etc. Also try to see if you notice anything during the day related to food allergens that could be triggering this. Food allergies are one of the worst! I took my son and he has a mold, wheat and pet allergies. Some wheat doesn't bother him, but I was told that the intolerance builds and will set him off. Maybe a referral to an allergist can rule out any questions for ANY possible triggers. Lastly, I have heard that people (I'm not aware of children) can develop sleep apnea and this can get serious. I think your doc can really help rule anything out for you!
Good luck!!
B.

I just took my son to an ENT for this same exact situation; gasping while sleeping, etc... he's scheduled for sugery on Jan 22nd to have adnoids removed and possibly even tonsils. Also, he's getting tubes put in his ears at the same time. I found out that he has a 40% hearing loss due to fluid in his ears, but went for a well visit with the same concerns and the family dr. said he was fine. If you're not satisfied with the pediatrition, go to an ENT, get a second opinion. good luck!!

my daughter did this when she was five and it was her adnoids they were swollen causing not enough airflow thru the nose. she would breath heavy at nite even stop breathing for few seconds. made funny noises and snored. she had her tonsils and adnoids removed and has been fine every since. she also did it during day. hopefully this is whats going on and not more serious. and if doctor does not take it serious you keep taking him back untill they don't have no choice but to help him.i took my daughter to 3 doctors before they decided to do anything. goodluck

You need to take your son to the doctor immediately. He may be suffering from post nasal drip or sleep apnea where he may need some Oxygen at night. Please don;t wait too late---seek a MD now.

I am concerned that he is not sleeping well, but more concerned about his breathing! I think you should see a dr, 3 year olds should not snore or stop breathing! His adnoids could be swollen along with his tonsils.

You need to take him to the Dr. right away. My friend's son was the same way. they did a sleep test on him on a Friday and called them on Saturday to say he needed his tonsils out right away, that was done on the next Wednesday. His oxygen was getting so low at night they thought he may have heart damage. I had never heard of this,(I'm a grandmother) but have since found out from a cardiologist that it is pretty common. Please call the Dr. right away. L.

My daughter had this same problem. I took her to the pediatrician and her tonsils were so large there were almost touching. She had her tonsils and adenoids removed by an ENT and hasn't had a problem since. She sleeps better and even eats better.

You don't say how long he's been doing this, but I wouldn't fool around with it, get him to his pediatrician asap.

sandy,that sounds as if your son might have sleep apnea its a common disorder that can be corrected with a bi-pap or c-pap warn at night while he sleeps i'd sugest that you talk to your pediatrician asap they can set up a sleep study and fix him right up.I had sleep apnea for years we thought it was normal but its so nice to get a good nights sleep.good luck

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