What is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common disorder whose symptoms include loud snoring, daytime sleepiness, impaired quality of life, increased risk of heart disease, and even car accidents.
But what about obstructive sleep apnea in children?
Does OSA occur in children?
Obstructive sleep apnea affects as many as 5% of children in the country. Often, this disorder is associated with large tonsils (back of the throat) and adenoids (back of the nose). When these structures are enlarged, it makes it hard for children to breathe through their mouth and nose.
This can lead to them stopping breathing when they sleep, very loud breathing when awake and even affect the way the face develops. This can frequently lead to exhaustion, behavioral problems, and difficulties in school.
Common treatments for sleep apnea in children
Removing the tonsils and adenoids remains the most common surgery to address OSA in children. However, it’s often unsuccessful: 20-50% children that have this procedure continue to have significant problems with sleep. How come?
These procedures don’t address other potential areas of obstruction–for example, the nose (enlarged turbinates), the palate (too floppy), the tonsils on the back of the tongue (causing obstruction), and the larynx itself (voicebox too floppy).
So, the typical treatment for your child’s sleep apnea simply isn’t comprehensive or effective enough.
How can UT’s “Dream Team” help?
Our Pediatric ENT division offers a cutting-edge treatment for OSA in children: drug-induced sleep endoscopy. Since the 1990’s, this procedure has been used to identify additional areas of obstruction that can lead to OSA–in adults.
However, we’ve adopted this technique to identify areas of obstruction in children who haven’t improved after having their tonsils and adenoids removed.
Does sleep endoscopy work?
Yes! Our evaluation identified that 2 out of every 3 children with severe sleep apnea had an additional area of the airway that needed to be opened in addition to removing the tonsils and adenoids. Following these surgeries, the majority of our patients had complete or mostly resolved symptoms.
More good news: this procedure is proven to be safe and effective with minimal added anesthesia exposure.
Using sleep endoscopy in the evaluation stage has led to a possible solution for sleep apnea in children–much more effective than simply removing the tonsils and adenoids.
Great! What’s next?
Contact Dr. Anthony Sheyn, a renowned specialist in our Pediatric ENT division. Fellowship-trained in pediatric otolaryngology, Dr. Sheyn performs this cutting-edge procedure and would love to help your child get the sleep they deserve!
At UTHSC ENT, we’re proud to provide world class treatment in your hometown.