What other medical conditions are associated with obstructive sleep apnea?

Phil Westbrook
Sleep Medicine

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is associated with a number of other medical disorders. Conditions which appear to predispose one to OSA include hypothyroidism (not enough thyroid hormone) and acromegaly (too much growth hormone). Nasal and facial conditions due to congenital or developmental abnormalities may cause OA in children and if uncorrected continue to do so as they become adults. Enlarged tonsils and adenoids are a major cause of OSA in children. In women polycystic ovarian disease has been associated with the development of OSA, and pregnancy, while not an abnormal medical condition, can be a reversible cause of OSA. Obesity is the most common medical condition that causes with OSA. Tumors in the upper airway must always be considered as a possible cause of OSA, but fortunately they are quite rare.

Sleep apnea causes frequent interruptions in sleep pattern. The person usually does not wake up completely, and so is often unaware of the severity of the sleep disturbance. These interruptions in restful sleep cause powerful and dangerous sleepiness during the day. In addition, sleep apnea is probably linked to heart and lung problems including high blood pressure. The death rate from all causes is also higher in patients with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.