Something you may not have known about sleep apnea: over 90 percent of children who suffer from sleep apnea have enlarged obstructive tonsils and adenoids. In these cases, parents often choose the option of tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy and overwhelmingly, have great results afterwards. Adults who treat their sleep apnea symptoms may be in for a few surprises as well. Here are some changes you may see after treating your sleep apnea.

Pediatric Sleep Apnea

Soon after a tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy, parents may notice some tangible improvement in their child's quality of life.

  • The first and most common change noticed by parents is what's called the "wow effect," the first week after surgery: their kids are no longer gasping to breathe at night. They're also no longer snoring louder than adults, and are generally sleeping better.
  • If sleep was the main problem, irritability and attention deficit-like behavior often resolves in a few weeks or months.
  • A lack of irritability and better attention span can soon lead to children performing better in school.
  • Kids no longer wake up with unexplained headaches during the night. Sufferers of sleep apnea often wake up with headaches from a lack of sufficient oxygen to the brain during sleep.
  • Children may also be sick less often, and suffer from fewer cases of respiratory and sinus congestion.

Adult Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea in adults tends to be more complicated, with more issues at play in the adult body. Enlarged tonsils (not adenoids), obesity, structural nose changes, muscle collapse in the airways, and other conditions can all contribute to sleep apnea. Sleep apnea treatments tend to be more varied than a simple tonsillectomy, and may include:

  • Nonsurgical solutions such as dental devices or CPAP therapy
  • UPPP (Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty)
  • Septoplasty
  • Nasal turbinate reduction

Adults may take longer to see the benefits of sleep apnea treatment. However, it's important to remember that with time, changes will occur and those benefits may include:

  • No more struggling to breathe at night.
  • Partners will no longer be kept up at night worrying about snoring or choking sounds.
  • Sufferers will be less likely to wake up exhausted, and will have more energy and stamina.
  • Fewer cases of falling asleep while driving
  • Morning headaches are infrequent (or absent).
  • Unexplained hypertension, which is often made worse by sleep apnea, may abate.
  • Fewer instances of cardiac arrhythmia, respiratory congestions, asthma attacks. Management of all these conditions becomes less problematic.
  • An issue not often talked about, erectile dysfunction, is often caused by sleep apnea. With sleep apnea treatment, this may become easier to manage or become a non-issue.

Although adult sleep apnea can be more complicated than pediatric sleep apnea, the benefits of treatment can be life-changing. If you have questions about sleep apnea or want to discuss your treatment options, request an appointment with a Virginia ENT physician today.