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Sleep Apnea and Grave’s Disease

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Sleep Apnea is related to a number of different physical ailments.  In fact, sleep apnea is known to be an expressway to hypertension, heart failure, and depression.  There is a long list of other health complications that go along with sleep apnea, and Grave’s Disease is one of them.  Grave’s disease is a disease that directly effects the thyroid gland.  It causes immune system dysfunction that results in the overproduction of thyroid hormones. (hyperthyroidism)

Women under 40 have the highest risk for grave’s disease.  Some of the most common symptoms for Grave’s disease are :

  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • heat sensitivity/excessive sweating
  • Rapid weight loss
  • bulging eyes
  • Rapid/Irregular heartbeat
  • enlargement of thyroid gland
  • sexual dysfunction/reduced libido
  • fine tremor of hands and fingers
  • hyperactivity
  • restless leg syndrome

Whats the relationship between sleep apnea and Grave’s Disease?

Having an over active thyroid overstimulates the nervous system which will cause sleep difficulties.  Excessive sweating from this condition can cause a person to awake multiple times during the night.  The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped organ located at the front of the lower part of the neck.  When this gland becomes enlarged, it can cause an airway to become smaller, thus making sleep apnea worse.  If it swells to a big enough size, it can cause you to frequently cough.  Not to mention the domino affect that can occur from the other symptoms that one experiences.  Even if you are using a CPAP, anxiety can make it difficult to relax and initiate sleep.  People with anxiety often toss and turn for half of the night.  Restless leg syndrome can also have the same affect on people.  Having an intense, uncontrollable desire to move your legs is not condusive to sleeping.

In a clinical study done by the  National Center for Biotechnology Information, researchers studied the relationship between Thyroid dysfunction and Sleep Apnea.  The results showed that many obstructive sleep apnea patients had minor thyroid hormone imbalances; but they were not directly related to Grave’s Disease or any other type of Thyroid condition.  So if an individual has Grave’s Disease it will make their Sleep Apnea worse, but an individual with sleep apnea will not neccessarily develop Grave’s Disease.

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