What is obstructive sleep apnoea?

Obstructive sleep apnoea is a sleep disorder that affects a patient’s breathing while they sleep. The upper airways become blocked, and oxygen flow is reduced to the body’s organs. In children this is commonly cause by adenoidal hypertrophy and/or enlarged tonsils. Other more rare causes such as cysts or swelling in the head and neck region also need to be considered.


What are the symptoms?

Some common symptoms include difficulty feeding, irritability, snoring, periods where breathing stops during the night, daytime sleepiness as well as very restless sleep.


How can it be treated?

Careful and thorough evaluation of potential causes needs to be undertaken prior to intervention by a multi-disciplinary team (paediatrician, pulmonologist, ENT).  Evaluation sometimes includes airway evaluation that requires endoscopic (using specialised cameras) of the airway. If enlarged adenoids and tonsils are thought to be the cause, surgical excision (adeno-tonsillectomy) is a very effective treatment.