Untreated Sleep Apnea Tied to Risk of Painful Arthritis

18 Sep 2018 by  admin in Sleep Apnea Treatment

macn sleeping with CPAP machineSleep apnea is a sleep disorder, and gout is an inflammatory form of arthritis. At first blush, it would appear that these two medical conditions have little to nothing in common. But emerging scientific evidence suggests that sleep apnea and gout are indeed linked. In a recent study published in the medical journal Arthritis & Rheumatology, researchers revealed that an analysis of tens of thousands of patients indicated those with sleep apnea are about 50% more likely to develop gout.

A look at the sleep apnea study

The researchers analyzed data in a British health database. They took a close look at nearly 10,000 people with sleep apnea, with the average age of 54. The researchers compared this group to a control group of nearly 44,000 patients who hadn’t been diagnosed with sleep apnea. After one year, the patients with sleep apnea had a 50/50 chance of having suffered an attack of gout during that year.

Another, longer study also suggested a link between sleep apnea and gout. Scientists studied nearly 16,000 patients with sleep apnea, and a control group of about 63,000. They followed the study participants for nearly six years. During that time, 2.6% of people without sleep apnea developed gout, compared to 4.9% of people with sleep apnea who developed gout.

Nature of the relationship still under investigation

It’s not clear exactly why people with sleep apnea appear to be at an increased risk of this inflammatory form of arthritis. However, the researchers pointed out that both conditions do share one major risk factor in common: Overweight and obesity. The other leading theory is that gout may have something to do with hypoxia. Hypoxia refers to insufficient oxygen levels. As a person with sleep apnea sleeps, the airway becomes obstructed and oxygen levels plummet as breathing ceases. The repetitive, severe drops in oxygen levels contribute to cell breakdown and tissue damage. It’s possible that these complications may increase the uric acid levels within the body.

Gout is a form of arthritis in which uric acid levels are high. This causes uric acid to crystallize, and these crystals accumulate in the joints—usually in the big toe. When the crystals build up, an intensely painful attack of gout occurs.

How can specialized dental care help?

Patients with severe sleep apnea may need CPAP therapy to keep their symptoms under control and reduce the risk of complications like gout. But not all patients can tolerate the CPAP machine. It’s notoriously bulky and noisy, and can be difficult to fall asleep with. Many patients with sleep apnea are excellent candidates for dental treatments for sleep apnea.

So how can a dentist help patients who suffer from sleep apnea? It’s because the positioning of the oral structures can obstruct the airway during sleep, causing sleep apnea, and dentists can fix this problem. A dentist can custom fit a special oral appliance. This gently shifts the oral structures into their proper positions during sleep. This allows patients to sleep soundly through the night, stop snoring, and keep their sleep apnea under control.

You can get your custom-fit oral appliance today at Long Island Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Nick and Dr. Elliot are experts in providing dental treatments for sleep apnea patients. Don’t delay another day—get the healthy sleep you deserve. Call our office in Long Island, Suffolk County at 631.296.0602.

Additional resources about sleep apnea and gout:

  1. Harvard Medical School, Gout: Sleep Apnea May Raise Your Risk, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/gout-sleep-apnea-may-raise-your-risk-201511178633
  2. The New York Times, Sleep Apnea May Increase Risk of Gout, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/11/well/live/sleep-apnea-may-increase-risk-of-gout.html
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