Noisy Breathing Stridor

  • Noisy breathing in children is a common problem. It can occur due to various causes.
  • Noise during breathing is produced when some part of the baby’s airway is blocked or narrowed. Depending on the site and the degree of the blockage various sounds can be produced. These different sounds are known as snore, stetor, stridor, rattle, wheeze and grunt. We need to examine your child to identify the type of the noise.
  • The most important of these sounds is know as a Stridor. It occurs due to obstructed air flow through a narrowed airway from the Larynx and upper part of trachea (wind-pipe). Many causes can lead to a stridor.

What are the causes of stridor in children?

  • In infants, stridor usually indicates a congenital disorder (problem that your child is born with) and includs, Laryngmalacia (the neck cartilages are more floppy), vocal cord paralysis (vocal cords not working) or subglotticstenosis. Other conditons could be laryngeal webs, subglottic hemangiomas, compression of trachea by vascular rings., etc. We would discuss with you in detail about these.
  • In toddlers or older children stridor is as a result of an viral infection. In rare cases, stridor can occur secondary to foreign body aspiration.

How do we investigate a child with noisy breathing?

  • We usually would examine the child in detail before getting any investigations.
  • The airway doctor may recommend one or more of these diagnostic tests:
  • Flexible Bronchoscopy  is the most important investigations required for evaluation of children with stridor or noisy breathing. We thereby can exactly see the airway or wind pipe from inside and tell you the cause of the noise.
  • Plain X-ray, airway fluoroscopy, barium swallow, and CT scan of the chest - might also be required for a complete evaluation.