Snoring is a sleep destroyer- for the snorer as well as those sleeping (or trying to sleep) nearby. Kids that snore are given the medical label of ‘Obstructive Sleep Apnea’ or ‘Sleep Disordered Breathing’. Whatever, you call it, these kids are not sleeping well and a sleep-deprived kid is likely to be a grumpy, sickly, miserable kid, prone to tears and skipping school. They are definitely not living their best life.
Enlarged tonsils and adenoids is the number one cause of snoring and sleep disruption in children. Tonsils and adenoids are clusters of lymphoid tissue that help to provide immunity for young children. The tonsils are found at the back of the throat, whilst the adenoids are found at the back of the nose. If the tonsils become too large, they will block the flow of air through the nose and mouth.
If this is found to be the case, then the first line of defense against snoring (recommended by the American Academy of Paediatrics) will be surgical removal of both the tonsils and adenoids under general anaesthesia (1) as the effectiveness of this procedure to reduce snoring and reduce excessive daytime sleepiness has been confirmed in many studies (2).
However, surgical removal of the tonsils and adenoids is not only linked to better sleep but also better behavior. Unlike sleep-deprived adults who slow down, sleep-deprived kids become hyperactive and wired and struggle to focus on one activity. This can lead to snorers being incorrectly labeled as having ADHD and underperforming at school.
Interestingly, in another study (3), children with an ADHD diagnosis who underwent surgery to remove their tonsils and adenoids, no longer fit the description of this diagnosis one year later.
Bottom line: If your kid is snoring, they need intervention to sleep better.
1. Treatment Outcomes of Adenotonsillectomy for Children with Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A Prospective Longitudinal Study
Yu-Shu Huang, MD
Christian Guilleminault, DM, MD, DBiol
Li-Ang Lee, MD
Cheng-Hui Lin, MD
Fan-Ming Hwang, PhD
2. Sleepiness in children with obstructive sleep apnea improved on two commonly used sleepiness questionnaires following adenotonsillectomy treatment. Effect of Adenotonsillectomy on Parent-Reported Sleepiness in Children with Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Shalini Paruthi, MD, Paula Buchanan, PhD, Jia Weng, MS, Ronald D. Chervin, MD, MS, Ronald B. Mitchell, MD ...
3. Effect of adenotonsillectomy on nocturnal hypoxaemia, sleep disturbance, and symptoms in snoring children
J.R. Stradling. Author links open the author workspace. MDOpens the author workspacea. Numbers and letters correspond to the affiliation list. Click to expose these in author workspaceG. Thomas. Author links open the author workspace. RSCNa. Numbers and letters correspond to the affiliation list. Click to expose these in author workspaceA.R.H. Warley. Author links open the author workspace. MDa. Numbers and letters correspond to the affiliation list. Click to expose these in author workspaceP. Williams. Author links open the author workspace. BSca. Numbers and letters correspond to the affiliation list. Click to expose these in author workspaceA. Freeland. Author links open the author workspace. FRCSb