Sleep Apnea

For a while i have been waking up in the night choking like my heart had missed a beat and then started again once i woke up. I went to my previous doctor about this a while ago and he said it could not be sleep apnea because i was not overweight.This is happening more and more now and i am afraid to go to sleep. It seems to be during the early stages of sleep..

I have read that there is a connection between sleep apnea and thyroid.

If anyone else has been diagnosed with this i would appreciate your advice and how did you get a diagnosis.


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35 Replies

  • Hi yorkshiregirl! Yes I have had the same symptoms, they were very scary. I feel sorry for you. With me it turned out that I was taking too much Levothyroxine. I was desperate to lose some weight, so I bought some T3 and added it with my Levo! I didn't lose any weight,!, just had dreadful nights, just as you describe. Perhaps you are taking too much levo, have you had your blood tested recently, you might need a reduction. With me, once it was out of my system, all my sleep problems disappeared. x

  • Breathing problems can happen in hypothyroidism. This is a link - I don't think the GP's know too much, or anything at all about clinical symptoms:-

    The reason you keep popping in to the GP's is that you may be undermedicated and maybe only need a slight increase in meds. Because the lack of thyroid hormone affects every single cell in our bodies everything is out of kilter and gives us all different clinical symptoms which may be fixed by being on optimum medication. You may even need the addition of some T3.

  • Im having a hear tnmonitor fitted soon so maybe something will show up in that. Can under medication as well as over cause nigh breething problems.

  • Ambulatory heart monitor showed I had prolonged QT interval - long gap between some beats then a kick/skip catch up. Uncomfortable but not uncommon.

    Funny how these things only present when you've become hypothyroid, yet they're nothing to do with hypothyroidism innit?

    Mine's been ascribed to Effexor/venlafaxine ADs.

  • How do they treat your condition?

  • No treatment required. Just avoidance of meds where its contra indicated.

    Although its nuffink to do with hypothyroidism, I rather think it has a connection with optimal dosing of Levo. When you're 'right' incidences are less frequent and less noticeable.

  • thanks,,,i hope it goes away it scares me so much

  • Try to look at it like a heartbeat hiccough. Irritating but not life threatening or lifestyle changing. :)

  • thanks thats re-assuring....i trying to stay awake in fear of it. Have you any ideawhy it only happens when falling asleep.

  • doctors irritate me when they say things like that , im about 1/2 stone over weight and currently being tested for thyroid etc one of my my symptoms is sleep apnea in my case though i hold my breath in and make weird noises seeming my lungs are trying to make me breathe and im holding air in,had it for some years before major symptoms in 2010 and i wasnt over weight then, they just like to blame it on weight/smoking and not link it to other medical problems :(

  • I agree....i can sometimes hear m breathing but its from my mouth like im struggling to get a breath..i find it so scary. Are you having tests for sleep apnea or have you already been diagnosed.

  • it doesnt bother me but my my current consultant is aware of it and all my symptoms which is why hes run loads of blood tests still currently waiting on results taking ages :(, im used to it i noticed myself doing it so asked my mother to look in on me and see if i was dreaming it but she said no it was real i was holding my breath in, sometimes it disturbs my sleep but gotten used to it

  • yorkshiregirl44,...I had exactly the same thing just before i was diagnosed with under active Thyroid so i would bet you are under medicated at a guess.Good luck,the symptoms you have are very worrying when it happens.

  • Im glad i sent this post because i thought i maybe over medicated and never thought i needed more..i thought that because my tsh is 0.86, another trip to dr i guess. thanks

  • Hi Yorkshire

    Although not diagnosed hypo despite obvious symptoms after my partial T op (apparently CFS now, live with it, lol!)

    thought I'd chip in to say before the op I would 'wake' up shaking and unable to breathe or talk in a sort of 'fit' (hubby described it as bouncing off the bed!) GP said 'anxiety' er.. can you be anxious sleeping? - this was before I found out my 'dodgy' nodule was causing this, as now I only very rarely wake up 'jittery' when I forget not to sleep on my back, but not half as bad now. I discussed this with a friend with the same signs - she is on a CPAP machine and finds relief. Hope the monitor gives you some clues to help.J :D

  • Also consider possible electrolyte imbalance. the 'iums' can cause all sorts of problems, calcium, potassium, sodium (salt) etc. have you had an U&E test? (Jackie is one to ask about these) J x

  • I know my sodium was just above top end of range.Iv had that many blood tests the otherones were allin range, Dont think iv had a U&E test,,,is it a blood test

  • Yes, a common blood test, usually to check Kidney function but can affect blood chemistry & electrical pathways e.g. palpitations (I hate these!) GP should do them as a matter of course. J

  • Will ask about that thanks

  • It should at least show up if there is a delayedor missed beat.....i willtry sleeping in a different position to see if it helps. Thanks

  • It's just something I try to avoid (as I've got other problems too, stupid extra neck ribs & nerve entrapment) so don't be surprised it it doesn't work for you, it could be due to other things as mentioned above, even being over medicated. I wouldn't dare to advise just give my experience. The dread of waking up like that has lessened for me, also got my low VitD & magnesium sorted (and calcium) there's so much to consider - anyway hope you have a good well-deserved sleep - nite nite sweetie J x

  • Hi Sleep Aponea is more common if over weight. However, makes no difference insist on being referred to, best a respiratory, As you describe it, I would say essential to have a CPAP, bane of my life! However vital.Second choice is a sleep clinic. I am very underweight, only because a consultant knew me well did he refer me, even he thought I was wrong, as for the GP !!!!!However, turned out worse case the clinic had ever known. Go by your instincts and insist.


  • Is it just called a respiratory clinic.....were you diagnosed with sleep apnea

  • Hi Either GP refers you to a sleep clinic, not a lot, based at hospitals, respiratory unit. It is all done by home monitoring, simple. Or better ask for a referral to a respiratory consultant, they will then arrange it and check other things, eg Asthma. Only decent consultant or doc at listening to lung problems. Mine picks up infections before they even show on X ray. Others, do not, pretty hopeless at it in fact. Big fuss, but have not a clue! CPAP`s do take a wile to adjust to, but certainly needed with the problem. It can in fact kill you , sleep Aponea, so treatment vital. Mine so bad have to wear it in the day too, great! I need a humidifier too with it, as I have Sjogrens. If it makes you dry then ask for one, as it is not automatically given, cost of course! There are also lots of different sort of masks, so the first choice not always the best choice. They are very good, the tecs., it has a micro chip in to check it is working well, etc.

    Best wishes,


  • You sound like you have a good consultent..what part of the country are you in

  • Hi Warwickshire. A long way from you I think. However, I have had terrible consultants in the past, I have to see lots. Now, I pick my own, start with a large teaching hospital, get names, look at their names on the local private hospitals, often more info there. Then look on WEB lots have their own CV`s on. Then phone sec, NHS or privately ( which ever using) and ask about them, ie fish!

    Only then ask for a referral. Do not go by other consultants or GP recommendation. Amazing how they think some are brilliant and just terrible. been there, done that!

    Do find some one, it is important.


  • Im in Lancs although from Yorkshire....i will take your advice into more research about consultents coz like you i have wasted lots of time waiting to see consultents and then coming away with nothing resolved. Going from one to another and no communication between them.My Gp even said if we do enough tests we will find something wrong with you..but at the same time didnt want to do further tests...utter nonsense

  • Hi You can be referred tertiary, if seeing a decent consultant but make sure it is your choice.Other wise just insist, they can refuse, but often scare of legal action!!!Tell them it could kill you, if need be, it is unusual but can.reflex action is to war

    Good hunting!


  • Hi there, I am not sure if there is a connection with sleep apnea and thyroid, but I have been having episodes of waking and feeling like I had stopped breathing. I am less than nine stones so not overweight like yourself. It is very worrying when this happens. I mentioned it to doctor and he said it was probably stress, and I have had some problems so it may be. I will be interested to hear if others suffer this too. I did read it somewhere that it can happen when you have problems with the thyroid.

  • Because i find it so scary i just want to get to the bottom of it....and hopefullyget some treatment to prevent it...even if it turns out not to be serious it dissrupts sleep adding to fatigue. I remember my old gp putting everything down to stress and then i got a underactive thyroid diagnosis.

  • What your doc told you is incorrect. My mum has sleep apnoea and she is tiny, not even a little overweight. Apparently she has a congenitally narrow space to breathe through (trachea? not sure exactly what anatomical area they told her was narrow) and this makes her susceptible. Also the muscles can get slack, which can give you a problem.

  • Exactly....i feel that sleeping causes my muscles to kind of relax too much.

    How was your mum diagnosed and treated.

  • She was tired and her gp looked at possible causes. It was quite a while ago, maybe ten years or more, so I'm not really sure of the details. She goes to a sleep clinic every now and then to see if the air pressure in her machine needs to be adjusted. Her brother also has it and he is also not overweight. (Sorry it has taken me so long to reply.)

  • I'm currently undiagnosed suspected Hypothyroidism, however the doctor's referring me for a sleep test in March. It sounds like everyone is aware when they're waking up if they have sleep apnea.

    An ex girlfriend used to say a few times breath..... When I was nodding off I would hold my breath but wasn't really aware of it till she said it. I'm aware I'm waking up in the night and I never wake up fully refreshed, so I know I'm not getting quality sleep but I'm not aware I'm waking up in a panic and gasping air. I'm assuming if it was sleep apnea I would be aware of it?

  • Not necessarily. It needs to be diagnosed. You can potentially stop breathing many times in the night and not wake fully or remember that you were awakened, and people who sleep alone may just know they aren't getting a good night's rest but not be aware of why it is happening. I think there are a lot of undiagnosed sufferers.

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