Laryngomalacia is a condition wherein tissues of the larynx become soft, which results in these tissues becoming floppy. At times, they block the opening of the air passage, which results in an uncommon sound coming out while sleeping. The condition is quite common in babies. The tissues of the larynx become too weak, and they can't support the pressure exerted by breathing. As such, they flap inwards. Usually, the condition is present from the birth of a child, and becomes more prominent within a few weeks after birth. The exact reason for laryngomalacia in infants is still unknown, but it's believed that lack of complete development of muscle tone in the larynx may be a reason.
Laryngomalacia in Infants
After a few weeks of birth, you may hear your kid producing abnormal sound while breathing and this may be due to the above disorder. When the child inhales, there may be a rattling or crowning sound, which may seem frightening. There are other similar conditions where there may be noisy breathing, but whatever the reason, they are all caused by congenital deformities, weak windpipe walls, or flabbiness of the tissues, which protect the windpipe.
When the baby lies on its back, the condition may get worse as more of these soft tissues block the air passage. Usually, there's noisy breathing in infants, but in some severe cases, the baby may find it difficult to breathe and may get retractions. In some rare cases, if the retractions are chronic, it may result in chest deformities. At times, it may be difficult to nourish some babies due to this condition, and so the baby may not gain weight as soon as it should have.
Symptoms of Laryngomalacia in Infants
The most common symptom is sporadic noisy breathing. If the condition becomes worse, the child may have difficulty in swallowing food, may get excited, or cry hoarsely in the middle of the night. When the baby is born, the symptoms are present, and they become visible after a few days. In some cases, the condition may arise after a year of birth. Over time, the symptoms get worse, and the child may spit up or vomit food. Moreover, the baby may spit up acid, which is accumulated in the stomach, and the neck or chest may sink while breathing.
Treatment of Laryngomalacia in Infants
Usually, this disorder resolves over time by itself as the baby matures, with no problems whatsoever later on. When the baby cries, if there is no abnormal sound and if the baby gains weight and develops normally, then there is nothing to worry. The condition will resolve over time with a little bit of care and some simple medications. Mostly, the condition goes away when the child is two years old. However, in some rare cases, the condition may last longer. In such cases, the symptoms may reappear whenever there's a disease of the respiratory system or when there's a lot of physical activity.
If it's a simple case, then it can be treated by simple medications, which help in restricting the damaging effect of reflux. Moreover, medicines are administered, which reduces the production of acid in the stomach or increases the muscle tone of the oesophagus. In severe cases, the baby may need to go through a tracheotomy so as to improve breathing.
Besides the above mentioned measures to treat the condition, some measures can also be taken, which do not aggravate the problem. These include changing the sleeping position of the child. Moreover, a cot can be placed on which the baby can sleep, and it should be placed in such a position that the baby sleeps in an inclined position so that the contents of the stomach does not come out.
Thus, this disorder is common among the newborns, but it needs to be taken care of early, or else it may cause complications later on in life. When your baby sleeps and you find an uncommon sound while breathing, consult a paediatrician immediately.