My 18 Month Old Was Diagnosed with Sleep Apnea

Updated on April 20, 2010
E.V. asks from Houston, TX
10 answers

My 18 month old baby has had numerous ear infections and tonsillitis infections. About 3 months ago her Pediatrician suggested we see a ENT doctor. When we went the first couple of times he suggested we do tubes and atneiods. Which i kinda knew she needed from the get go. But he also suggested tonils. I was a bit skeptical about the idea just because she was so little. But we were given a choice to wait it off until she was 2yrs. old. Well unfortunatley she began having several tonsillitits infections and respitory probelms. When she became sick she began to gasp for air...that really freaked me out! So i immediatly scheduled an appt to see her ENT and after he heard how she was breathing he suggested we do the tonsillectomy with ear tube insertion and atneoids. But he also said we needed a sleep study done before just to be on the safe side. We just got it done on April 2, 2010 and got the results this past friday. And sure enough she has sleep apnea. He said the surgery has it's risks (which any given surgery does anyway) he says there are 4% of kids her age that bleed profusely after the surgery and end up needing a blood transfusion. Now when he said this, i began having my doubts. I dont' want my baby to go through this but at the same time I hate seeing her like this and i refuse to see her go any longer with infections. My question is, Is she too young to get all that done? He says since she already has respitory problems, it makes it a little harder. We don't know how she's gonna react after she wakes up, but all i know is IM SCARED! She's too little to go through all this. Does the sleep Apnea go away after the surgery? Is it guaranteed? I know she can't wait until she's older just because she's practically sick every 2 weeks. They told us she would be getting the surgery done about a month from now. Im just scared of all the Risks involved!

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answers from Austin on

E., I promise you, you are NOT being a drama queen to be worried about this. Anything that affects our children, especially surgery, is frightening, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. My son had to have major surgery to fix a blocked ureter (the tube that goes from your kidney to your bladder) just days after his 5th birthday, and even though I am a Christian and trusted God to take care of him, I was scared to death! But I am happy to report that he is a thriving, happy, healthy 16-year-old now!

Have you gotten a second opinion (from a different ENT)? I would definitely do that before going for the surgery.

I don't know if sleep apnea is different for adults than for children -- my husband has it, and uses a CPAP machine. In his case it is definitely not any kind of infection that causes it, it's a more "mechanical" problem. I suspect that's true for your daughter -- it would make sense that the enlarged tonsils and adenoids could cause some sleep issues like this.

I'm having to face a similar issue for myself -- I've had strep throat for the last nearly 3 months, and may have to have a tonsillectomy. For adults it is MUCH worse than for kids (pain and recovery-wise), so you can believe I will get a second opinion if the ENT decides I need the surgery! I wish desperately that my parents had gotten my tonsils removed when I was a child, but that was "out of favor" in the late 1960s.

A 4% chance of bleeding ... that's still a 96% chance that it won't happen!

So -- yes, get a second opinion, from a doctor who is highly respected and trusted. And then if you have to do the surgery, just trust that she will be okay and that this will be incredibly helpful for her and her quality of life.



answers from Boise on

We were in a similar position with our son. He was even a bit younger when he was diagnosed with sleep apnea. He had ear tubes at 10 months and at around 14 months an ENT suggested removing his adenoids. We scheduled the surgery, but I was also scared and didn't want another surgery. We saw a naturopath physician who suggested allergy testing, which revealed that my son has sensitivities to gluten and dairy. We removed both from his diet for the month prior to the surgery (and mine since I was nursing), and when we went in for our pre-op appointment, the ENT said everything looked great! We avoided the surgery and the infections pretty much stopped. He is now almost two and we are still dairy free (added gluten back). It is worth a try to avoid a potentially dangerous surgery. Good luck!



answers from Victoria on

my father and hubby both have SA and i never heard of a surgery to fix it!!! but that isnt saying too much as i havent looked that into it. i would get a second opnion but i would probably go with the first doctor that diagnosed her if indeed the second says the same thing. i would have it done if indeed it does fix the apnea...its a dangerouse thing and can lead to all sorts of troubles...including heart problems. if not can she get a machine for her apnea?



answers from Columbus on

Did you doctor say that your daughter was at higher risk than other children her age for some reason? 4% sounds a little scary, but what your doctor described is rare and at least the doctors know about the risk, and they are prepared. You could even bank a relatives blood for her if it makes you feel better. Would you rather take a 100% risk of having apnea? She is little, but you are really making this far bigger deal than it should be, and she will pick up on your panic.

No one can tell you exactly what will happen for your daughter, but most kids do just fine. I have one who had 6 sets of tubes, two adnoidectomies and a tonsilectomey by age 5. Wish we had the tonsilectomy first, and we would have ended her problems. After the surgery she did not snore any more, no ear infections, strep, or tonslitis. Just had a sleep study at 13 and no apnea (she was getting braces and the dentist thought she had big tonsils-long story-crazy dentist.)

Trust your doctor and let the drama slide on this one.




answers from Atlanta on

HI E.,

If the surgery is scheduled for a month from now you have time to try your other options. Sleep Apnea is a combination, if you will, of emphysema and bronchitis. Your environment can exacerbate symptoms and that can be remedied. A total detox of your home (removing neurological and respiratory irritants) is needed. I have seen allergies and asthma disappear after this is done. I have also seen behavior change as well. I can walk you through it and help you get it done if you want. Just ask.

I don't believe in removing body parts unless it is life threatening (e.g. an appendix bursting) God gave us everything and every part HAS a purpose. The tonsils protect the heart from infections. Yes they get irritated and cause issues sometimes but the other is so much more serious. I had my tonsils out at age 20 and didn't think anything about it at the time but it changed a lot in my life. Little ones can't articulate or even notice differences but they do exist.

Personally I don't the apnea would go away after the surgery because her immune system would be weakened. I'm assuming she's been on antibiotics and that weakens the immune system as well. She needs that built to fight off these conditions as well.

E., we detoxed our home and we manage our care with a principled upper cervical chiropractor and no one in the family gets sick anymore. Most chiropractors will work within your financial budget too. If you don't have one go to and find one in your area. Interview them and Ask what they do for the immune system. If they don't know, then move onto the next one on the list. My chiropractor has had tremendous success with ear infections as well. We avoided tubes completely.

I was the sickly kid in and out of the hospital and I feel better now than I did in my teens. Please get back to me. Detoxing can be simple and can be inexpensive as well. I'd love to help.

God bless,




answers from San Antonio on

If it were me I would definitely get the adenoids removed and tubes placed. And if the doctor recommends having tonsils removed I would seriously consider doing it. It's true that tonsils are removed much less often than in years past, but there are plenty of adults that have had them removed and are no worse off for it.

Your child's sleep apnea is probably being caused by the swelling of the adenoids and perhaps the tonsils. These structures are blocking her airway during sleep. She wakes up when her breathing stops and repositions herself to open her airway. Having the structures that are causing the blockages removed should result in the sleep apnea no longer being an issue for your daughter.

I recommend that you talk to your doctor again about your concerns. Every surgery/procedure has risks. You need to weigh those risks against the current risks to her health as it is now with sleep apnea and chronic infections. Sleep apnea (where a person stops breathing temporarily during sleep) is very dangerous. She is not getting adequate amounts of sleep which further weakens her already impaired immune system. Plus, going without adequate oxygen in your body over a prolonged period of time can damage organs and blood vessels.

My son had chronic ear infections for 7 months. He had tubes placed in his ears at 14 months. He didn't have another infection until he was 2 and then it was mild one. He is 10 years old now and has only had one or two more mild ear infections over the years. I didn't have to face a decision about tonsils and adenoids, but it was easy to decide to get tubes. He was miserable and sick all the time before the tubes were placed. I'm sure you just want your daughter to get better with the least amount of invasive procedures as possible. Ask your doctor if the removal of the tonsils is truly necessary to resolve her sleep apnea and chronic infections. If he says yes then I would do it and pray that she is one of the 96% that don't have any problems. Good luck and God bless!



answers from Denver on

I totally understand your concern. What parent 'wants' to have her baby go into surgery? As with all decisions weigh the pros and cons. It's a simple sugery (yes with complications, but life is full of many risks). We made the decision to have our 3 year olds tonsils out (next week). My thought process:
She is miserable, can't sleep through the night b/c of snoring and waking herself. This isn't good for her overall health and development. AND it's better to have the procedure when young - faster healing and recovery and less risk! Just talk to someone who had them out in their teens/twenties... Finally, I haven't met a parent yet who didn't say it was SO WORTH it and saw the improvement in their child. Overall, it's the best decision for mine, and just know whatever decision you make - it will all be okay....
Good luck and be easy on yourself.



answers from Austin on

You poor thing. I would be scared, too. My 2 year old had her adenoids out in December and we are in the process of deciding about tubes now. During all this I learned that the tonsils are a much bigger deal than either the adenoids or the tubes. The recovery is harder for them. Also, my husband has sleep apnea (did the sleep study/now sleeps with a bipap) and his tonsils were never even discussed, but maybe it's different for babies. I would get a second opinion. You may still need to do it all, but you will probably feel more confident about it. Don't be afraid to ask all your questions. Get the info you need.



answers from Houston on

It's natural for you to be nervous and scared. Since you have plenty of time (a month), ask lots of questions until you have all of your concerns reasonably satisfied. It sounds to me like these procedures recommended by your doctor are necessary for your daughter's health and not just frivolous suggestions. While it will be hard on you to go through this with your daughter, if it's truly necessary you WILL find the strength to handle it. My daughter had open-heart surgery at the age of 6 months, and it was the scariest thing I've ever gone through. Like you, I had concerns and was scared. But now she is a happy, mostly healthy little 4yo girl. Hang in there! *HUGS*



answers from Minneapolis on

I just wanted to say that I completely understand you being scared. I don't have any advice regarding the sleep apnea, and am shocked at hearing one so young being diagnosed with this. But, with regards to the ear tubes, all three of my children had to have them. My first was 10 months old when he had them. Second was 18 months old. Third was 6 months old. Of course there are risks with all surgeries. But the risks of not doing the surgery need to be considered as well.
You are running a risk of permanently affecting her hearing. You don't want continued use of antibiotics either as prolonged exposure can cause them to lose their effectiveness. I am sure there are risks associated with the other infections as well. Weigh those risks vs. the surgical risks and see if that helps.
Best of luck in whatever you choose to do!

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