Sleep Apnea Linked to Increased Risk of Gout

sleeping man with sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious condition in which breathing periodically stops and restarts throughout the night. Individuals who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea are more prone to suffer from extreme daytime fatigue, as well as hypertension, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems. A new study, published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatology, has now linked sleep apnea to an increased risk of gout and gout flare-ups due to excess production of uric acid in the bloodstream, which is sparked by bouts of oxygen deprivation.

Researchers at the Boston University Clinical Epidemiology Research and Training Unit say that obesity is often an underlying factor in both sleep apnea and gout, the latter of which is caused by a build-up of uric acid crystals in the body.

However, individuals with sleep apnea are more likely to suffer from gout even when weight was not an issue, according to Yuqing Zhang, the study’s lead author.

Gout twice as common in sleep apnea sufferers

In their analysis of the effects of sleep apnea, the research team reviewed data on 10,000 individuals who were newly-diagnosed with sleep apnea. This data was then compared with 40,000 people of a similar age, gender and body composition who did not have sleep apnea. Some 270 cases of gout were identified by the research team within a one year period, with 76 in the sleep apnea group and another 194 in the comparison participants.

Statistically, this showed that gout was nearly twice as common in those with sleep apnea, which raises the question of whether treating sleep apnea patients can then reduce gout risks.

Gout is considered a complex type of arthritis and associated with a slew of painful symptoms, including:

  • Severe joint pain in the big toe
  • Lingering joint pain that doesn’t subside with medication
  • Warmth, redness and tenderness in the ankles, wrists, knees, fingers and toes
  • Reduced movement of the affected joint

Health care practitioners have long warned that risk factors for gout include a diet rich in red meats and alcohol, genetic predisposition, being male, metabolic syndrome and obesity. These recent findings also indicate that sleep apnea is another possible risk factor to take into consideration.

Treating sleep apnea

Individuals who suffer from moderate to severe sleep apnea understand the detrimental effects this sleep disorder has on energy levels, concentration, memory and overall health. For this reason, many sufferers turn to conventional treatments like CPAP (Continuous positive airway pressure) machines, which is a mask worn over the face during sleep. While some patients learn to adapt to this bulky device, others feel claustrophobic or cannot tolerate its dehydrating effects.

Overall compliance rates with CPAP machines are low, though some manufacturers are currently producing lighter machines that are more comfortable and not quite as cumbersome.

For those individuals who simply cannot tolerate CPAP masks or have been unable to find relief through other methods, oral appliance therapy is a possible solution. An oral appliance is a custom-made mouth guard worn at night that alleviates moderate obstructive sleep apnea in nearly two-thirds of patients, according to The American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Free consultation for oral appliance therapy

Many dental professionals have had great success in treating sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy. If you’ve been suffering and would like to schedule a sleep-apnea assessment with Long Island cosmetic dentists Dr. Nick and Dr. Elliott, we invite you to contact our Suffolk County office today at 631-296-0570. Keep in mind that most insurance and medical plans cover sleep apnea treatment 100%!

 

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Ava Lawson

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