Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a disorder characterized by brief pauses in breathing during sleep, which occur when the soft tissues in the throat close and block the air passages. Sleep apnea may interfere with normal gas exchange, and can significantly reduce the productivity of sleep. It may also elevate the hematocrit, thicken the blood, and increase the risk of other health issues including hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Sleep apnea can sometimes go undiagnosed for years, as an individual may not be aware of the obstructions during sleep. Symptoms of OSA include daytime sleepiness, snoring, nocturnal awakenings, and morning headaches. Obstructive sleep apnea seems to occur most commonly in overweight individuals, and is related to a combination of hormonal, metabolic, and physical factors.

Anabolic/androgenic steroids may be associated with the development of obstructive sleep apnea in a small percentage of individuals. The exact relationship between AAS and OSA, however, remains unclear. This adverse reaction seems to appear in some patients receiving testosterone drugs to treat hypogonadism. More detailed studies have shown that high does of testosterone can disrupt sleep and breathing, as well as increase sleep-related hypoxemia, effects that may precipitate obstructive sleep apnea. While OSA has not been clearly documented in steroid abusers, androgens have been shown to alter the structure and function of the oropharynx in ways that can predispose an individual to this disorder. More research is needed to determine if steroid abuse can trigger OSA in an otherwise healthy person. Individuals with a history of obstructive sleep apnea should not use anabolic/androgenic steroids. Physicians are advised to monitor their patients closely for signs of OSA during AAS therapy.

References

Wlliam Llewellyn (2011) - Anabolics

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