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Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is defined as a partial or complete blockage in breathing during sleep. These children often are identified due to obvious symptoms such as loud snoring and noted pauses in breathing while asleep.

However, sleep apnea in children may be difficult to recognize and diagnose, and may show up as daytime behavioral problems or bedwetting. It can be very dangerous and needs to be managed by experts in this field.

At the Johns Hopkins Division of Pediatric Otolaryngology, our experts—a team of pediatric ENTs—evaluates and monitors children for sleep apnea using the latest research and guidelines.


Does your child exhibit any of the following behaviors?

  • Continuous loud snoring
  • Failure to thrive (not gaining weight, not growing)
  • Enlarged tonsils and adenoids
  • Episodes of not breathing at night (apneas)
  • Mouth breathing
  • Daytime behavioral problems including ADHD-like behavior
  • Bedwetting
  • Abnormal sleep positions
  • Sleepiness during the day; needs frequent naps
  • Headaches in the morning
  • Problems paying attention in school

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you will want to have your child evaluated for sleep apnea.


When parents or referring physicians call about a patient with sleep apnea, your child will be referred to the clinic, where your pediatric ENT will make a determination if your child needs to undergo a sleep study.

Sleep Study

A sleep study involves monitoring a child while they sleep to see if sleep apnea is present. You will be asked to spend the night at a sleep center with your child as they are connected (no needles) to a number of monitors. Measurements will include your child’s breathing rate, oxygen levels and brain waves. All of these measurements will help your physicians determine if your child does indeed have sleep apnea.


When we receive the results of the study, we will discuss the results with you. If sleep apnea is found, possible treatments will be discussed with you. In otherwise healthy children, the standard treatment is to remove the tonsils and adenoids, known as a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy.

The Johns Hopkins difference

What makes our management of this surgery different? A number of factors, including:

  • Using the results of a sleep study before surgery allows us to determine if the risks and benefits of surgery warrant us safely sending your child home directly following surgery or if an overnight stay would be best.
  • For younger children and children with severe obstructive sleep apnea or other medical problems, we monitor them in the hospital for at least one night in order to better manage pain and monitor oxygen levels, and breathing.
  • For children with persistent sleep apnea after tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, or in children with other health issues, including Down syndrome and craniofacial anomalies (abnormal facial anatomy), advanced surgical and medical treatments are available.
  • We also follow our patients with sleep apnea after surgery to make sure the surgery was successful and may ask for your child to undergo a sleep study after surgery to confirm that they have been effectively cured of the sleep apnea.

Request an Appointment

Please call us at 443-997-6467 (443-997-OHNS) to make an appointment at any of our three locations.