If You Can't Stop Doing This at Night, Get Your Thyroid Checked

This common nightly habit could be a sign of something more serious.

Thyroid troubles can manifest in a wide variety of subtle symptoms that it can be easy to overlook. Unfortunately, ignoring those signs that you need to get your thyroid checked can be risky, because untreated thyroid disease can cause other serious health complications. That's why it's important to pay attention to any potential symptoms, and according to experts, there's one sign of thyroid trouble that you could be experiencing every night. Read on to find out what common occurrence means you should get your thyroid checked, and for more symptoms of a thyroid problem, If This Happens When You Eat or Drink, You Need Your Thyroid Checked.

If you snore at night, it could be a sign of an underactive thyroid.

Woman sleeping
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Snoring has a number of potential explanations, a thyroid problem being one of them. Respiratory disturbances are fairly common in people with hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid. "People with hypothyroidism may experience sleep apnea, which can cause snoring," says Sapna Shah, MD, an endocrinologist with Paloma Health. Although not everyone who snores experiences sleep apnea, a condition where your breathing repeatedly stops and starts throughout the night, it is a leading cause of snoring. "The thyroid gland makes hormones that regulate your body's metabolic rate. When the thyroid gland doesn't make enough thyroid hormones, you might experience symptoms that feel like the body is slowing down, like tiredness, muscle cramps, or a depressed mood. So, sleep apnea associated with hypothyroidism may be due to increased mucus in the upper airway, decreased lung function, or weight gain—a common symptom of hypothyroidism," she explains.

It's not only about sleep apnea, however. As Leann Poston, MD, a licensed physician and health expert for Invigor Medical, notes, "Hypothyroidism can also lead to fluid retention and swollen tissues, which can worsen snoring." Additionally, some symptoms of hypothyroidism like "swollen enlarged tongue, weak breathing muscles, and weight gain" can contribute to snoring. A 2007 study published by the Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology found that hormone stabilization in people with hypothyroidism reduced snoring severity. And for more reasons to see a doctor, If You Notice This on Your Nails, Get Your Thyroid Checked, Doctors Say.

There are other notable symptoms of hypothyroidism.

Shot of a young man feeling ill while sitting on a sofa at home

Many people snore, but not all of them have hypothyroidism. If you're experiencing other symptoms of hypothyroidism, you should definitely see a doctor. Poston says some common symptoms of hypothyroidism include "sensitivity to cold, constipation, dry skin, hair loss, and unexplained weight gain." Other common symptoms of hypothyroidism, according to the National Health Service (NHS), include fatigue, depression, slow movements and thoughts, and muscle aches, cramps, and weakness.

"If you're worried about sleep apnea or other symptoms, consider testing your thyroid, as untreated thyroid disease can put patients at risk for more severe problems like cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, or infertility," Shah says. And for more late-night health concerns, If You Take This Common Medication to Sleep, Stop Now, New Study Says.

And there are other signs of sleep apnea to look out for.

Woman experiencing fatigue at home

While sleep apnea is a common cause of snoring, many people snore without this condition. Shah recommends getting checked for sleep apnea "if you have more related symptoms like chest pain at night, sore throat in the morning, or extreme sleepiness during the day." Other common symptoms of sleep apnea, per the Mayo Clinic, include dry mouth in the morning, morning headaches, and difficulty sleeping. Sleep apnea can be a serious condition because it causes you to stop breathing in your sleep, so be sure to see a doctor to find the right treatment if you think you're experiencing sleep apnea. And for more useful information delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

An enlarged thyroid gland could also cause snoring.

Man sleeping

Hypothyroidism isn't the only way the gland can cause you to snore. "The thyroid gland sits in the front part of the neck about midway between the jaw and the breastbone," Poston says. "If the thyroid gland becomes enlarged due to nodules or a goiter [it] can put pressure on the airway, increasing the risk of sleep apnea."

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, found that a thyroidectomy to remove all or part of an enlarged thyroid gland reduced snoring. "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," study author Rebecca Sippel, MD, said in a statement. And for more on sleep disturbances, If You Can't Sleep, This OTC Medication Could Be Why, Experts Say.

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