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Q. My son has trouble sleeping with gasping for air at times. Please help.

Answered by
Dr. Shyam Kalyan N
and medically reviewed by Dr. Vinodhini. J
This is a premium question & answer published on Apr 18, 2020 and last reviewed on: Apr 30, 2020

Hi doctor,

My 2-year-old son is having a lot of trouble sleeping. He snores every night and tosses and turns and has trouble breathing through his nose. His doctor says he has enlarged tonsils and adenoids. I think he has obstructed sleep apnea because I hear him gasping for air sometimes.

We did a sleep study and the night of the sleep study he slept well. But every night at home he has a lot of trouble sleeping. He wakes up a lot, talks in his sleep has nightmares and I think he has sleep apnea because I hear him gasping for air sometimes.

The doctor said we could try Flonaise to help him. But we read that Flonaise can stunt a child’s growth. The doctor said he could grow into his tonsils. And I also heard that 2 years old is very young for tonsil surgery.

My questions are how worried should I be about his troubled seeping? I am not getting any sleep lately because I listen to him all night. Is it dangerous to let him go on trying to sleep and have so much trouble breathing each night with possible sleep apnea? Please help. I am very concerned.

Dr. Shyam Kalyan N

Allergy Specialist Otolaryngology (E.N.T)


Welcome to

If symptoms are too severe we can go for tonsil and adenoid surgery now also. Flonase is a steroid and it does not affect growth as it will be administered inside the nostril and will have the action only there. There will not be any systemic or bloodstream absorption.

How much worried you should be about his tonsil and sleep apnea problem are:

1. Change in facial features producing adenoid facies.

2. Irritability of kid.

3. He cannot hear properly due to adenoids blocking ear tubes.

4. Ear discharge.

5. Reduced development of speech.

Do not get worried just because of the snoring and sleep apnea. Give him nasal steroids and antihistaminic syrup (like Zyrtec or Allegra syrup) of appropriate dosage. In some cases, we even give oral steroid syrup. It does not cause any stunting the way you have understood.

Once you exhaust the above medical treatment option and find no or not much benefit we can discuss about the surgery.

Your doctor is right in giving the medicines Flonase, etc. That is the protocol. We can follow the same here. The decision to operate may vary with different surgeon. Take a pediatrician opinion as well. Do revert back to me if you need more support.

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