Obstructive sleep apnea affects around 20 million Americans and can lead to hypertension, heart attack, stroke, depression, muscle pain, fibromyalgia, morning headaches, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Friday, June 24, 2011

How Corticosteroids Treat Childhood OSA

Although the largest portion of obstructive sleep apnea sufferers are adult males age 50 or over, childhood obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a serious problem. Childhood sleep apnea can result in behavior problems, school difficulties, and serious health consequences for its victims. Unfortunately, treatment of the condition can be difficult, and the preferred first line of treatment, surgery, is not as effective as doctors would like. Some studies estimate the effectiveness of surgical treatment to be as low as 50%. When you add in the risk of surgical complications, it seems that a nonsurgical treatment option may be a better front-line treatment.

Fortunately, one alternative sleep apnea treatment is the use of nasal corticosteroids. The most commonly studied steroid is fluticasone, which has shown reasonable success. In one study, children receiving nasal steroids saw a reduction of arousals due to apneic events of 3.5/hr. In addition, less than half of children treated with nasal steroids went on to have surgery, compared to three-quarters of children treated with placebo.

In the most recent study, researchers looked at the mechanism that allows the corticosteroid to treat sleep apnea. They found that corticosteroids significantly decreased the amount of cytokine IL-6, which has been associated with cardiovascular risk and death. Although the study is brief and involved only a small number of children, it does point to an important treatment option for childhood OSA sufferers.

If your child is having trouble in school or suffers from behavior problems, you should consider the possibility of childhood obesity among other potential causes. To learn more about how to get the best treatment for childhood sleep apnea, please contact a local sleep dentist today.

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posted by Dr. Candelaria at 2:43 PM