What do I do if her obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) surgery was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic?
It is a difficult time for everyone, and most surgeons have cancelled procedures (especially around the ear nose and throat) due to the high risk of transmitting CoVID-19. Adenotonsillectomy (removing adenoids and tonsils), however, is still the treatment of choice for most children with diagnosed obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Here are a few thoughts.
1. The treatment for OSA depends on the severity of the obstructive sleep apnea and how it was diagnosed. If it is severe, you could talk to your child’s doctor about whether or not the operation is considered urgent. In that case, the operation would occur with CoVid-19 precautions including full personal protective equipment (PPE) for the surgeons and operating room staff.
2. If surgery is not an option, your child’s doctor might consider a brief period of time using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). CPAP is a common treatment for OSA that involves your child wearing mask fitted to the nose, so that a continuous stream of air is delivered to your child while she sleeps, keeping her airway open and preventing obstructions and pauses in breathing during sleep. Children sometimes need this even after getting their tonsils and adenoids out. Depending on the age of your child and developmental level, wearing a mask and using CPAP might be hard to get used to, but the majority of children do! Check with your local hospitals and sleep clinic about their policies regarding surgery and CPAP.
3. Consider asking your doctor about topical nasal steroids if your little one does not already use them. Nasal steroids have been shown to reduce the number of times the child stops breathing by half and shrink the size of adenoids by up to 60%. That can help a great deal. If you are using these medications, be sure to have your health care provider explain how to use them correctly to prevent side effects like nose bleeds and to choose an age-appropriate type of spray.
This post was written in the Spring of 2020. Please follow your local guidelines and advice from family health care providers for appropriate, current coronavirus safety measures.