George A. Sprecace M.D., J.D., F.A.C.P. and Allergy Associates of New London, P.C.


Do you have a young child who snores, awakens in the morning irritable and headachy, acts out frequently, appears tired during the day, has trouble in school with concentration (?”ADHD”?) and learning - or is even failing progressively?
This composite picture - not uncommon - may indicate a severe sleep disorder, a condition which is very treatable if diagnosed in time.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea/Hypopnea, described elsewhere in adults ( see my offering, above), also occurs in children.  As might be expected, it presents with a different clinical picture in children than in adults: sudden and persistent shortness of breath at age four or five signaling heart failure in a child who has been suffocating each night during sleep; social / behavioral problems; symptoms suggesting “ADHD”;
and cognitive impairment - gradual loss of mental abilities - which may be permanent if the condition is not recognized and treated promptly.  Indeed, studies have found a positive correlation between difficulty and failure in school and the existence of  Obstructive Sleep Apnea in children.

Predisposing factors  include allergies (nasal congestion, frequent colds, multiple ear infections and/or hearing loss, “allergic shiners”, “allergic salute”), neurologic problems, facial / cranial structural abnormalities,  obesity (“syndrome XXL”)....

Of  the symptoms and signs noted above,  a very important marker is  SNORING.
It is not cute or innocent.  It is a sign of an obstructive airway - SUFFOCATION.
It is most often secondary to enlarged tonsils and adenoids, and is most often cured by removal of these tissues.  In fact, a child who snores and has enlarged tonsils and adenoids, with or without some of the above symptoms and signs, and with or without a Sleep Study, should have a “T and A” before considering any other treatment, including medication.  The only exception is to treat efffectively associated allergies,  and then only as a trial for a limited period to determine its effectiveness in eliminating snoring.

As in adults, a high index of suspicion is critical to diagnosing this condition.  And, as in adults, the consequences of missing the problem can be severe.


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