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Childhood Sleep Apnea Medication

  • Author: Mary E Cataletto, MD; Chief Editor: Girish D Sharma, MD, FCCP, FAAP  more...
 
Updated: Apr 21, 2016
 
 

Medication Summary

No effective pharmacologic therapy for childhood obstructive sleep apnea is recognized. Individuals with obstructive sleep apnea and hypersomnolence should have the underlying cause of their obstructive apnea addressed, rather than use stimulant medication during the day in an attempt to help stay alert.

Nocturnal supplemental oxygen is generally not advised as a primary treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. Although oxygen may blunt the degree of hemoglobin desaturation during sleep, it does not prevent sleep fragmentation, sleep deprivation, or associated autonomic stimulation during the obstructive episodes. Preoperative supplemental oxygen treatment has been reported to worsen obstructive hypoventilation in some children. Therefore, if oxygen is used as a bridge to more definitive therapy, the effect of supplemental oxygen should be documented during nocturnal polysomnography.

Intranasal fluticasone propionate (Flonase) administered daily for 6 weeks has been shown to ameliorate the frequency of obstructive events in children with documented mild-to-moderate obstructive sleep apnea caused by tonsil and/or adenoid hypertrophy by about one half. Intranasal corticosteroids have not been shown to decrease obstructive symptoms, eliminate the need for surgery, prevent oxygen desaturation, or shrink tonsil or adenoid tissue; therefore, if intranasal corticosteroids are used, the treatment is only temporary pending a more permanent solution. Systemic corticosteroids have not been shown effective and have no role in treatment.

Preliminary studies suggest an oral leukotriene modifier therapy may reduce the severity of obstructive sleep apnea; however, this intervention is currently considered investigational. Intranasal budesonide used for 6 weeks has been demonstrated to lead to a sustained improvement in mild obstructive sleep apnea but is unproven as therapy for severe obstructive sleep apnea.[23]

 
Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Mary E Cataletto, MD Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, State University of New York at Stony Brook

Mary E Cataletto, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Chest Physicians

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Coauthor(s)

Timothy D Murphy, MD Consulting and Attending Staff, Pediatric Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine, Mary Bridge Children's Hospital

Timothy D Murphy, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Thoracic Society, American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Andrew J Lipton, MD MPH and TM, Staff Pediatric Pulmonologist, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, Walter Reed Army Medical Center

Andrew J Lipton, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Chest Physicians, American Thoracic Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Girish D Sharma, MD, FCCP, FAAP Professor of Pediatrics, Rush Medical College; Director, Section of Pediatric Pulmonology and Rush Cystic Fibrosis Center, Rush Children's Hospital, Rush University Medical Center

Girish D Sharma, MD, FCCP, FAAP is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Chest Physicians, American Thoracic Society, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Susanna A McColley, MD Professor of Pediatrics, Northwestern University, The Feinberg School of Medicine; Director of Cystic Fibrosis Center, Head, Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Children's Memorial Medical Center of Chicago

Susanna A McColley, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Chest Physicians, American Sleep Disorders Association, American Thoracic Society

Disclosure: Received honoraria from Genentech for speaking and teaching; Received honoraria from Genentech for consulting; Partner received consulting fee from Boston Scientific for consulting; Received honoraria from Gilead for speaking and teaching; Received consulting fee from Caremark for consulting; Received honoraria from Vertex Pharmaceuticals for speaking and teaching.

Acknowledgements

Heidi Connolly, MD Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry; Director, Pediatric Sleep Medicine Services, Strong Sleep Disorders Center

Heidi Connolly, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Thoracic Society, and Society of Critical Care Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

David Gozal, MD Vice-Chairman of Research and Director, Comprehensive Sleep Medicine Center, Kosair Children's Hospital; Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Louisville School of Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Michael Steffan, MD Director of Pediatric Sleep Center, Department of Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, Children's Medical Center; Associate Professor, Wright State University School of Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Palate appearance following uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) surgery.
Example of an obstructive apnea and an obstructive hypopnea recorded during polysomnography.
Medical complications associated with obstructive sleep apnea in children.
Compressed overnight polysomnography tracing of a 6-year-old boy who snores, showing multiple events of obstructive apnea (green-shaded areas) associated with oxyhemoglobin desaturation (yellow-shaded areas) and EEG arousals (red-shaded areas).
Parameters monitored during an overnight pediatric sleep study.
Normal parameters for sleep gas exchange and gas exchange in children.
 
 
 
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