Some research studies have demonstrated an association between obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and asthma. It's not clear why they are linked - it could be that both involve inflammation. OSA is also associated with obesity, which is linked to asthma. The most common treatment for OSA in children is the surgical removal of adenoids and tonsils, referred to as an adenotonsillectomy (AT). This study looked at historical medical and pharmacy records of children with asthma who did and did not have AT. The data in this study was from quite a large database, and the children who had AT were matched with those without AT.
The results showed that asthma flare-ups were worse in children the year prior to AT. However, after AT, asthma flare-ups declined significantly, to levels similar to the kids with asthma who did not receive AT. A similar decrease was seen in asthma medication refills in those children who underwent AT.
The study authors conclude that the presence of OSA can worsen asthma control in children, and that treatment of the OSA with AT may reduce asthma flare-ups. The authors appropriately caution that prospective studies will be needed to establish a causal relationship.