He Has Trouble Focusing at School
If your child is having problems like hyperactivity, inattention, or poor performance in class—or if he's moody, frustrated, tired, and generally cranky, you may be thinking ADHD. However, it could be his tonsils. In fact, it's very common for kids with tonsil problems to be misdiagnosed when their symptoms don't seem to be physical. Enlarged tonsils and adenoids can block your child's airway when he's sleeping, causing sleep apnea, a condition in which he briefly stops breathing and wakes up repeatedly during the night.
Surprisingly, 60 to 80 percent of all tonsillectomies are now done because kids' tonsils are obstructing their airway and creating sleep problems. How to tell whether this could be the case? "Your child may be a restless sleeper. You might notice that he'll snore loudly and then suddenly gasp and move around a little bit," says Scott Manning, M.D., division chief of otolaryngology at the Seattle Children's Hospital. That's because the muscles around the tonsils and adenoids are relaxing, and they collapse around the tonsil tissues. If your child's tonsils are large, the airway becomes blocked, causing him to startle and wake up very briefly. Once his tonsils are removed, your kid will sleep better and be able to focus more during the day. One study at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, in Kansas City, for example, found that many children who seemed to have ADHD actually had large tonsils and sleep apnea. After they had surgery, their apparent ADHD symptoms significantly improved.