Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is a sleep disorder characterized by snoring and periodic obstruction of the upper airway. In a child, symptoms of OSAS may include chronic fatigue, mouth breathing, irritability, bed-wetting (enuresis) and failure to thrive. Repeated interruption of sleep has been shown to cause behavioral disturbances in children as well. This disruptive behavior can be particularly troublesome for children who already have attention disorders such as ADD/ADHD. The behavioral issues due to sleep deprivation can be significant enough that some patients with OSAS have even been misdiagnosed with ADD/ADHD.
In most cases, obstructive sleep apnea in children is due to enlarged tonsils and adenoids. Overweight children are at higher risk for OSAS. Other conditions such as Down's syndrome (Trisomy 21) and gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) may also lead to or worsen OSAS. Fortunately, most cases of OSAS can either be cured or dramatically improved with surgery. Usually, tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy is recommended for this condition. Most children will be discharged home the same day, but children under three years old may stay overnight.