Asthma Drug Helps Kids with Sleep Apnea

Anti-inflammatory pill an alternative to tonsil removal, researchers say

FRIDAY, Aug. 5, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- The oral anti-inflammatory drug montelukast -- used to treat asthma and allergic rhinitis -- appears to be an effective alternative therapy to the removal of tonsils and adenoids in children with mild sleep-disordered breathing, according to researchers at the University of Louisville.

The 16-week study of 24 children found the oral therapy resulted in significant reductions in the size of the children's adenoids and fewer respiratory sleep disturbances. The findings, published in the August issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, support the existence of a chronic inflammatory process in children with obstructive sleep apnea.

"Systemic anti-inflammatory agents with safe therapeutic profiles for use in children with sleep-disordered breathing could serve as an alternative treatment to removal of tonsils and adenoids," researcher Dr. David Gozal said in a prepared statement.

Obstructive sleep apnea causes a person to temporarily stop breathing, leading to a decrease of oxygen in the blood and an accumulation of carbon dioxide. After a person's breathing pauses for 10 seconds or more, the person wakes up and resumes breathing.

Obstructive sleep apnea affects about 2 percent to 3 percent of children in the United States, and is usually caused by a blockage in the throat or upper airway.

More information

The American Sleep Apnea Association has information for parents about having their children tested for obstructive sleep apnea.

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, Aug. 1, 2005
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