Mayo Clinic doctors trained in sleep medicine work with doctors trained in treating pediatric ear, nose, and throat conditions, lung conditions, and other pediatric specialties when necessary to treat pediatric obstructive sleep apnea.
Your doctor will work with you to find the most appropriate treatment for your child's sleep apnea. To treat pediatric obstructive sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend the following:
- Avoid airway irritants and allergens. Children with pediatric obstructive sleep apnea should avoid tobacco smoke or other indoor allergens or pollutants, as they can cause congestion and airway irritation.
- Removal of the tonsils and adenoids (adenotonsillectomy). Your doctor may refer your child to a pediatric ear, nose and throat specialist to consider the removal of your child's tonsils or adenoids if they're partially or completely blocking your child's airway. An adenotonsillectomy (ad-uh-no-ton-sil-EK-tuh-me) may improve your child's pediatric obstructive sleep apnea by opening up the airway. Other forms of upper airway surgery may also be recommended, based on the child's condition.
- Positive airway pressure therapy. In continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and bilevel positive airway pressure (BPAP), small machines gently blow air through a tube and mask attached to your child's nose, or nose and mouth. The machine sends air pressure into the back of your child's throat to keep your child's airway open. Doctors often treat pediatric obstructive sleep apnea with positive airway pressure therapy.
- Weight loss. Doctors may recommend that your child lose weight if he or she is obese, as obesity is one of the causes of breathing problems in pediatric obstructive sleep apnea. Your doctor or other specialists may provide you and your child with diet and nutrition information.
- Oral appliances. Oral appliances, such as dental devices or mouthpieces, move your child's bottom jaw and tongue to keep your child's upper airway open. Mayo Clinic dentists have experience developing oral appliances to treat sleep apnea. Only some children benefit from such devices.