Sleep apnoea in endocrine diseases

J Sleep Res. 1998 Mar;7(1):3-11. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2869.1998.00086.x.


The pertinent literature on the prevalence, clinical manifestations and pathogenic mechanisms of sleep apnoea (SA) in endocrine diseases, namely acromegaly, Cushing syndrome, hypothyroidism and diabetes mellitus was reviewed. An increased prevalence is well documented in patients with active and treated acromegaly. While most authors report peripheral obstruction, due to hypertrophy of tongue and pharyngeal tissues, to be the cause of SA in acromegaly, some findings argue for a role of hormone-induced changes of central respiratory control. SA is also more common in hypothyroidism, especially when myxedema is present. The associated edema and myopathy appear to be of pathogenic importance. Thyroxin substitution is frequently effective for the treatment of SA but nCPAP can be necessary initially and in some patients even after remission of clinical signs of hypothyroidism. In Cushing disease and syndrome, parapharyngeal fat accumulation can cause SA, but no epidemiological information is available. In non insulin dependent diabetes (NIDDM), obesity is the common risk factor for both, nocturnal hypoxia and insulin resistance. In IDDM, the development of autonomic neuropathy may predispose to SA. Where treatment of the underlying endocrine disease is unable cure the associated SA, nCPAP is usually the treatment of first choice. More prospective studies are clearly needed to establish prevalences and resolve the controversies regarding pathogenesis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cushing Syndrome / complications*
  • Cushing Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Complications*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypothyroidism / complications*
  • Hypothyroidism / diagnosis
  • Male
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / etiology*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / therapy