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Can Enlarged Tonsils Cause Obstructive Sleep Apnea In Children & Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea A Disability?

Obstructive sleep apnea refers to the condition when anything blocks all or a specific part of your upper airways while you sleep. Your chest muscles and diaphragm thus forced to work hard for opening the airways and pulling the air within your lungs. This makes breathing shallow and prevents you to breathe for a while. You often start breathing but by producing a loud sound, body jerk or snort. Also, you fail to sleep properly and may not know about this condition. Also, obstructive sleep apnea reduces your oxygen flow to different organs and may result in uneven heart rhythms.(1)

Can Enlarged Tonsils Cause Obstructive Sleep Apnea In Children?

Obstructive sleep apnea in children i.e. pediatric obstructive sleep apnea takes place whenever a child stops his/her breathing during the sleep periods. The breathing cessation often takes place due to an obstruction or blockage in airways. Adenoids and tonsils may grow excessively large in size as compared to the size of the airways in a child. Here, airways refer to passages from the mouth and nose towards the lungs and windpipe.

Infection and inflammation may cause abnormal growth of both tonsils and adenoids to cause a big blockage. The enlarged adenoids and tonsils thus create a blockage in the airway during sleep for a while. As adenoids and tonsils consist of lymph tissues and located at the sides and back of one’s throat when they become abnormally large cause pediatric obstructive sleep apnea.(2)

Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea A Disability?

Most of the patients and their family members often ask whether they can disability benefit in case of obstructive sleep apnea or not. The answer is yes, as sleep apnea is a type of disability, where your breathing stops repeatedly while you sleep. If we talk about the regular sleeping hours i.e. 6 to 8hours, a person with sleep apnea may suffer from stopped breathing for a certain period and most probably for one minute. This takes place because of blocked air passages or airways and many times, because of tissue collapse in the back area of one’s throat.

However, breathing will start again after some time but by producing a loud noise known as snoring. When the brain puts effort to get back the airflow again, the patient’s body becomes deprived of enough oxygen, because of which he or she often wakes up or experiences shallow sleep. As the sleep quality gets reduced significantly in the case of sleep apnea, patients may stay awake many times and often feel tired after the night’s sleep. Also, the individual falls asleep during waking hours because of not getting enough sleep because of the condition.

Doctors have also categorized sleep apnea as a disability based on their types, which include-

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea, which is a common type and in it, back muscles of one’s throat relax and create a blockage in the air passage.
  • Central sleep apnea, in which the brain of a patient stops sending any message to breathe while he or she sleeps. In most of the cases, this type of apnea takes place because of other illnesses.
  • Complex syndromes of sleep apnea, which involve the combination of central sleep and obstructive sleep apneas.(3)


To conclude, we should say that enlarged adenoids and tonsils are the prime factors to cause obstructive sleep apnea in children and kids. Moreover, regardless of the type of sleep apnea and the patient’s age, he or she may apply for disability benefits, as doctors categorize the problem as a type of disability.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 6, 2021

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