Nightly pill could replace surgery to remove tonsils
Soroka research says kids suffering from sleep apnea may not need surgery for chronically inflamed tonsils or adenoids.
Various pills [illustrative photo] Photo: Srdjan Zivulovic / Reuters
Children suffering from sleep apnea may not have to undergo surgical removal of
chronically inflamed tonsils or adenoids; they can receive a single nightly pill
usually given for asthma to treat the condition instead.
researchers at Beersheba’s Soroka University Medical Center, having just
published their work in the prestigious journal Pediatrics, whose editor called
the conclusions “eye opening.”
About three percent of children suffer
from sleep apnea, in which they snore and may even stop breathing for a few
seconds while asleep.
While sleep apnea is common among overweight adults
and poses a risk of heart disease, it can also occur in children who have
enlarged adenoids or tonsils.
The condition can cause problems with their
schoolwork and learning, memory, reduced grades and even a lower IQ. The final
result can be violence, aggression, hyperactivity and even cardiovascular
Until now, toddlers and children who snore in their sleep have
had to undergo surgery to remove their tonsils or adenoids.
these operations are considered effective, in some children they result in
dryness, infections, bleeding and other difficulties. As a result, researchers
have long searched for an alternative.
Dr. Aviv Goldbert, deputy head of
the hospital’s pediatrics B department and an expert in breathing and sleeping
disorders, and colleagues Dr. Sherry Greenberg and Prof. Asher Tal, looked for
another way to cope with sleep apnea beyond surgery.
Over a period of
four months, 25 children took one Montelukast pill before going to sleep. It was
found to reduce the symptoms and improve their sleep. When they were examined in
a sleep lab, their sleeping patterns and the opening of the respiratory airways
were found to be much improved.
Goldbert noted that the study was
“another step, and a significant one, following other important research in our
lab at Soroka.
They have examined the inflammatory process in children
with sleep apnea.”
The anti-inflammatory pill, he concluded, “is
effective in many children who suffer from not-severe respiratory problems during
sleep and can’t undergo surgery to remove the tonsils or adenoids.”