Dr. Mike Westman of Wisconsin’s TMJ and Sleep Disorder Solutions discusses tonsillectomy and sleep apnea in children

Sleep apnea in children

Does your child have difficulty staying asleep at night? Does he or she have a tendency to wake up feeling irritable or be sleepy during the day? If yes, your child may have sleep apnea. Many people have the idea that sleep apnea is a disease that only adults can contract, but that is not the case. While it is relatively rare that a child is diagnosed with sleep apnea, it is possible, especially when the child has experienced frequent problems with enlarged tonsils. In fact, the most frequent cause of sleep apnea in children is a result of soft tissues which become inflamed and then occlude the upper airway, which prevents effective breathing during sleep. This in turn leads to the frequent pauses in breathing that children experience when they are suffering from sleep apnea.

Is a tonsillectomy the best treatment?

Tonsillectomy and sleep apnea in children are frequently linked together, as the enlarged tonsils are often responsible for causing the sleep apnea in the first place. However, it is vitally important to be sure that a tonsillectomy is really the only course of action or if there are other, less invasive treatments that can be effective in alleviating the symptoms of sleep apnea for your child. There are a number of solutions to help children who suffer from sleep apnea.

The first thing is to find out exactly what the cause of the problem is so that it can be treated effectively. Many adults suffer from sleep apnea as a result of obesity or a congenital problem that they have had since birth. However, children do not usually experience sleep apnea as a result of obesity. While it is possible for them to have a congenital defect that makes them more prone to the disorder, it is typically the result of something such as frequent tonsillitis which has left the soft tissues at the back of their throat larger than normal.?In some cases, a tonsillectomy is virtually the only thing that will effectively remedy the problem. However, any type of invasive procedure should be the last resort if other methods can be used to treat the condition as effectively.

Find the best solution

The only way to know for sure if your child needs to have surgery is to discuss the problem with your dentist and find out if there are other options are available which can eliminate the symptoms of sleep apnea without forcing your child to go through surgery. Ideally, your child should not have to go through surgery unless he or she is experiencing additional problems associated with enlarged tonsils that cannot be alleviated in any other fashion. If your child is not experiencing any other problems, your dentist may be able to fit your child with a special mouthpiece that is designed to prevent the soft tissues from occluding his or her airway. This can help your child regain his or her health without putting your child at risk by going through surgery.

Learn more

If you would like to know more about how sleep apnea may be affecting your child, please feel free to?ask me ?and I’ll reply by tomorrow.

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