Girl breathing outside who does not have pediatric breathing problems

Is your child’s breathing keeping you up at night? Is it noticeable when they’re playing, walking, or talking? While this is common in many pediatric patients, the cause could range from minor to significant.

Typical causes for noisy pediatric breathing include:


The most common cause for high-pitched noisy breathing (known as stridor) is laryngomalacia. This condition is characterized by a softening of the laryngeal tissues of the voice box above the vocal cords, causing them to fold in over the airway while breathing. Most children outgrow laryngomalacia by 1-2 years old, but a small percentage may require surgery if they are having to work too hard to breathe or are having difficulty gaining weight.

Tonsil and adenoid swelling

The most common cause of noisy breathing at night, or snoring, in children is swollen tonsils or adenoids. Dr. Jad Jabbour, a pediatric ENT physician who practices out of our SouthPark office, goes into further detail. "When these tissues swell, they can obstruct your child’s breathing by making their airway narrower. There are many reasons these tissues can swell, but if they become too obstructive, they can lead to labored breathing during the day and sleep apnea at night." If this is occurring, or if your child is getting recurring infections in these tissues, they may require a tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy to improve their symptoms.


Whether it’s springtime or due to allergens like pet dander, allergies can cause swelling inside the nasal passages, leading to more instances of mouth breathing. Thoroughly cleaning your child’s room and clothing after they have been outside can reduce their exposure to common allergens like pollen and ragweed, but medicinal options may be considered. These can include nasal sprays, oral antihistamines, and/or immunotherapy options to build up a tolerance against certain allergens.

Foreign object

Your child’s noisy breathing could actually be due to a foreign object lodged within an airway passage. Smaller children and toddlers may place objects within their noses out of curiosity, which could cause mouth breathing and/or increased drainage from just one side of the nose. If the object is visible, family members can attempt to gently remove the object with blunt tweezers, but they may need assistance from one of our providers. If there is a concern after hours or if your child is having any trouble breathing, it is better to visit an emergency department, especially as the object could be lodged within the throat.

Labored or loud breathing from your child may seem concerning at first, but a pediatric ENT appointment at CEENTA can put your worries to rest. Our team of otolaryngologists treat a variety of pediatric conditions from infections to allergies to vocal disorders. Schedule your child’s next appointment with Dr. Jabbour and other ENT physicians today to bring their breathing back to normal.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. New patients can make appointments online with our ENT doctors in North and South Carolina. Current patients can also make appointments through myCEENTAchart with physicians they have already seen.


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