Thyroid Surgery Can Reduce Snoring, Other Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Falls Church, Virginia. Oct. 28, 2011 – Obstructive sleep apnea, caused by narrowing or blockage of the airways when a person is asleep affects about 20% of the population. Typically a person with OSA will begin snoring loudly on falling asleep. If not treated, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can increase a person’s risk of death. It is not clear whether an enlarged thyroid gland, known as a goiter, can worsen cause or worsen symptoms of OSA by compressing the airway.

Alexandra Reiher, MD, and colleagues from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, evaluated the impact of goiter on OSA by assessing OSA symptoms such as snoring before and after thyroidectomy to remove all or part of and enlarged thyroid gland. Patients who reported symptoms of OSA included snoring were asked to complete a questionnaire before and 8 weeks after undergoing thyroidectomy. Data presented today at the 81st Annual Meeting of the American Thyroid Association showed significantly fewer patients (51% versus 71%) were considered to be at high risk for OSA following surgical reduction or removal of the thyroid gland. Symptom scores improved substantially after thyroidectomy, including a significant decrease in snoring frequency and lower scores on the question of whether the snoring bothered others.

“Obstructive sleep apnea is obviously a complex problem with numerous causes, but we find it encouraging that thyroidectomy alone can provide significant improvements in nearly a third of patients, regardless of gland size,” said study author Rebecca Sippel, MD, Assistant Professor, Division of General Surgery, and Chief, Section of Endocrine Surgery, at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

These results indicate that thyroidectomy to treat an enlarged thyroid appears to improve snoring symptoms associated with OSA. Based on these findings, the researchers suggest that evaluation of patients with obstructive sleep apnea include an assessment for goiter.

About the ATA Annual Meeting
The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Thyroid Association will be held October 26-30, 2011 at the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa in Indian Wells (near Palm Springs), California. This four day creative and innovative scientific program, chaired by Drs. Anthony Hollenberg and Martha Zeiger, has carefully balanced clinical and basic science sessions on the latest advances in thyroidology. The ATA meeting is designed to offer continuing education for endocrinologists, internists, surgeons, basic scientists, nuclear medicine scientists, pathologists, endocrine fellows and nurses, physician assistants and other health care professionals. Visit www.thyroid.org for more information.

About the ATA
The American Thyroid Association (ATA) is the leading worldwide organization dedicated to the advancement, understanding, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disorders and thyroid cancer. ATA is an international individual membership organization with over 1,400 members from 43 countries around the world. Celebrating its 88th anniversary, ATA delivers its mission through several key endeavors: the publication of highly regarded monthly journals, THYROID, Clinical Thyroidology and Clinical Thyroidology for Patients; annual scientific meetings; biennial clinical and research symposia; research grant programs for young investigators, support of online professional, public and patient educational programs; and the development of guidelines for clinical management of thyroid disease. Visit www.thyroid.org for more information.

Media Contact
Bobbi Smith
Executive Director
American Thyroid Association
Email: bsmith@thyroid.org
Phone: 703-772-2462

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