The relationship between sleep apnea syndrome and hypothyroidism

Chest. 1992 Dec;102(6):1663-7. doi: 10.1378/chest.102.6.1663.


To evaluate the prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) in patients with hypothyroidism, the prevalence of hypothyroidism in patients with OSAS, the possible factors predisposing to sleep-related breathing disorder in hypothyroid patients, and the effect of thyroid hormone in treating hypothyroidism associated with OSAS, we studied 65 patients with proven OSAS (apnea index [AI] > 5) and 20 hypothyroid patients. All patients were monitored for one overnight sleep study using polysomnography (Grass 78). We found only two (3.1 percent) of 65 OSAS patients had thyroid hypofunction. Of 20 patients with hypothyroidism, two showed moderate to severe OSAS and three had mild OSAS. Patients with both hypothyroidism and OSAS had impaired respiratory drive, but this was corrected by thyroid hormone therapy. Patients with hypothyroidism without OSAS were younger and had a lower percentage of ideal body weight than those with both hypothyroidism and OSAS. All hypothyroid patients were snorers. Thyroid hormone replacement was effective in correcting snoring only after one year of therapy. We conclude the following: (1) an overnight sleep study is not necessary in every case of hypothyroidism; (2) thyroid function studies need not be done routinely for every OSAS patient; (3) thyroid hormone therapy is effective for OSAS but it takes longer to correct the snore than respiratory drive; and (4) age and body weight are related to the development of OSAS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Body Weight
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypothyroidism / blood
  • Hypothyroidism / complications*
  • Hypothyroidism / drug therapy
  • Hypothyroidism / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Prevalence
  • Respiration / physiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / blood
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / complications*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / therapy
  • Snoring / therapy
  • Thyroid Hormones / blood
  • Thyroid Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Thyrotropin / blood


  • Thyroid Hormones
  • Thyrotropin
  • Oxygen