Do You Suffer From Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where your breathing repeatedly stops and starts while sleeping. About 12 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea and did you know that at least half of them are overweight?

Furthermore, sleep apnea is way more common in men compared to women and usually affects people after the age of 60.

If you snore excessively at night or at least your mate tells you that you do or you experience daytime fatigue even though you had a full night’s sleep then you should consult your doctor because you may have sleep apnea. People suffering from sleep apnea usually stop breathing for about 10 to 20 seconds at a time and this may occur 20 to 30 times per hour while sleeping!

There are 2 main types of sleep apnea which include the common Obstructive Sleep Apnea which occurs when the throat muscles relax and Central Sleep Apnea which occurs when your brain is not sending proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing.

Although there is strong evidence that sleep apnea is a major contributor to gout, little has been done to screen gout sufferers for sleep problems when initially diagnosed.

Chronic hypoxia (lack of oxygen in the body or brain) may promote excess uric acid in the blood.

In addition, sleep apnea may lead to other potentially life-threatening conditions like heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, liver problems, and stroke! What’s interesting is that both sleep apnea and gout are often listed as a cause of metabolic syndrome, kidney disease, and/or heart disease.

Did you also know that hyperuricemia is prevalent in sleep apnea sufferers as well?

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Types of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a potentially dangerous sleep disorder in which breathing stops and starts repeatedly. You may have sleep apnea if you snore loudly and feel tired even after a full night’s sleep.

These are the main forms of sleep apnea:

  1. Obstructive sleep apnea: the more typical variation that appears when throat muscles loosen
  2. Central sleep apnea: occurs when your brain fails to properly communicate with the breathing muscles.
  3. Complex sleep apnea syndrome: also referred to as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, this condition happens when a person has both central and obstructive sleep apnea.

Consult your doctor if you suspect that you may have sleep apnea. Treatment may help you feel better and may help you avoid complications like heart disease.

What is Gout?

Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that is quite common. Gout causes sudden and severe pain, known as a flare or gout attack, as well as swelling, tenderness, redness, and pain in your joints. Gout is most commonly found in the lower body, particularly around the big toe.

Gout flares are especially common at night. You may be startled out of sleep during these attacks by an abrupt, burning pain.

Common Causes of Gout

Gout is caused by hyperuricemia, also known as elevated uric acid levels in the blood. As a result, urate crystals form, causing the pain and inflammation associated with gout.

Uric acid is produced by your body as a waste product and as a necessary component of normal bodily function. However, consuming too much of it may be harmful to your health.

When you break down chemical compounds known as purines, which are produced by the foods you eat, your body produces uric acid.

While too much uric acid in the body may accumulate and cause sharp urate crystals to form in your joints or tissue instead of dissolving in your blood as it usually does and passing out through your urine. Gout is the name for the discomfort these sharp crystals in and around your joints cause.

Symptoms of Gout

Gout symptoms frequently appear in the middle of the night and without warning. These are some of the symptoms:

  • It may also affect the joints in your fingers, wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles. Severe joint pain that typically affects your big toes.
  • joint pain that persists after a gout attack.
  • Redness, tenderness, and inflammation in the affected joint or joints.

Who Is Most Prone to Develop Gout?

High uric acid levels in the body cause gout. Gout is more likely to develop if you have a high uric acid level. The following factors increase uric acid levels and, as a result, your risk of gout:

  • Medical issues: Research has found connections between gout and specific medical conditions like chronic kidney disease. High blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes are additional conditions that might make you more susceptible to developing gout.
  • Family background: You might be more susceptible to developing gout if other members of your family have already done so.
  • Gender and age: Gout is most common in men between the ages of 30 and 50. Women are more likely than men to develop gout after menopause, when uric acid levels tend to be higher.
  • Excess weight: Weight gain directly causes an increase in uric acid, and weight loss has been shown to reduce uric acid. Furthermore, the extra weight makes it more difficult for the kidneys to filter out uric acid.
  • Diet: Foods that may raise uric acid levels include red meat, seafood, and high-fructose corn syrup, which is found in many diet sodas and processed sweets. Gout may also be exacerbated by excessive alcohol consumption.

Common Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) Symptoms

When the tongue reclines and obstructs the airway, OSA occurs. These are some signs of sleep apnea:

  • Short periods of no breathing while sleeping, followed by a sudden awakening while gasping or choking
  • During the day, I am extremely tired and have difficulty concentrating
  • Snoring is audible
  • Have a dry mouth, sore throat, or headache when you wake up
  • Sweating at night
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Irritability or depression
  • Blood pressure is high

If you share a bed with someone, ask them to keep an eye out for any of these things that you might not be aware of.

OSA Diagnosis

Your doctor will probably ask you to participate in an overnight sleep study, either in a clinic or at home, after ruling out an obstruction in your ear, nose, or throat. Your heart, lungs, and brain activity as well as your airflow, movement, and blood oxygen levels will all be tracked by equipment while you sleep.

Common gout symptoms and signs include:

  • After the attack, the pain remains at a lower level
  • Movement of the joint becomes increasingly limited
  • The joint is swollen, red, and tender to the touch
  • Severe pain attacks in the affected joint

The Evidence Connecting Sleep Apnea and Gout

It was a small 1987 study that first pointed to the fact that sleep apnea and the effect of decreased oxygen in the blood increased uric acid levels. In 2012, Wiener and Shankar closely examined the 2005-08 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 6491 participants for sleep variables and high uric acid levels.

They found that people who snored more than five nights a week were associated with higher uric acid levels proving a relationship between gout and sleep apnea. Another study in the UK also examined the relationship between sleep apnea and gout and also came to similar conclusions.

It’s also worth noting that sleep apnea may trigger gout attacks because the majority of them happen at night. This is accomplished by the reduction in blood oxygen levels that sleep apnea causes at night.

Increased blood carbon dioxide levels may cause an increase in uric acid levels as well. These elements raise the risk of experiencing a painful gout attack.

The most common method to treat sleep apnea is to continuously sleep every night with a mask that provides continuous positive airway pressure also known as CPAP which may be uncomfortable in the beginning, but you will eventually get used to it.

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What is CPAP therapy?

CPAP therapy is the most widely used treatment for sleep apnea. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. CPAP therapy gently blows air into your airway through a mask you wear while sleeping to keep it open.

This splint keeps the airway open and prevents sleep apnea-related breathing pauses. If you use a CPAP machine, you will no longer snore or make choking noises while sleeping. You will be able to sleep through the night without waking up from a lack of oxygen.

When you use CPAP every night, you may stop or even reverse serious health issues like heart disease and stroke that are linked to sleep apnea. Your mood and memory may both get better.

The quality of your sleep will improve, which means you will feel more rested and alert during the day for some people. Your partner may even sleep better because you will no longer snore.

The CPAP Device

A CPAP system consists of a mask, flexible tubing, and a small air compressor. Most machines are about the size of a tissue box, being small, light, and quiet. Your CPAP machine can be kept next to your bed or on your nightstand.

Your mask is connected to the CPAP machine by tubing. You can turn over in bed or move around because the tubing is long enough to do so.

You can wear the CPAP mask either over your nose or over your mouth. You could also try sticking nasal pillows inside your nostrils. Other masks are made to firmly fit underneath your nose. It is essential that the mask you use fits well and is comfortable, regardless of the sty

Your airway must remain open throughout the night, which requires a seal from the mask. Air leaks can be avoided, and the proper air pressure can be maintained with a tight mask seal.

Benefits of CPAP Therapy for Sleep Apnea

  1. Your level of alertness and vigilance will rise: If you have obstructive sleep apnea, you either lose sleep or do not get enough rest. Many of the breathing problems that keep you awake at night may be resolved with CPAP therapy, allowing you to wake up feeling more rested. Getting more sleep can also help you focus at work, keep your energy levels up throughout the day, and even lower your risk of developing depression.
  2. Control your high blood pressure: A growing body of research connects high blood pressure to sleep apnea. More than 70% of people with difficult-to-treat hypertension have sleep apnea. Continuing CPAP treatment, on the other hand, has been shown to significantly help these people get their blood pressure under control.
  3. Lower your risk of getting a stroke: Sleep apnea is a well-known stroke risk factor.  A number of studies have shown that CPAP therapy significantly lowers the risk of having a second stroke, despite the fact that there hasn’t been much research into whether it specifically prevents the first stroke. But according to the American Heart Association, it makes sense to think that using a CPAP machine could help prevent the first stroke.
  4. Helps reduce the risk of developing diabetes: CPAP therapy for sleep apnea may improve insulin sensitivity. Sleep apnea is associated with glucose intolerance and insulin resistance, two risk factors for type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, untreated sleep apnea increases the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes.
  5. May be used to fight gout symptoms: Because CPAP treatment improves oxygen levels, it is possible that it will also improve uric acid levels, lowering the risk of developing gout or treating existing gout.

Is Gout Keeping You Awake at Night?

Gout symptoms, such as pain and swelling, may make sleeping difficult. Gout is caused by the accumulation of uric acid crystals in the joints (most commonly the big toes, but it may also occur in the knees, ankles, feet, hands, wrists, or elbows), resulting in intense joint pain that often occurs suddenly, especially at night.

Unfortunately, gout pain usually worsens in the middle of the night. According to a study that appeared in Arthritis Rheumatology, the risk of experiencing a gout attack was 2.4 times higher at night and in the early morning than it was during the day.

Flares may start and last anywhere between a few days and a week or two. You might experience swelling, redness, and tenderness in your joints.

Gout naturally disrupts your day when it keeps you up at night. According to an Internet survey, those without gout that has been medically diagnosed are more likely to have sleep issues.

Additionally, at least three to four times a month or more, according to two-thirds of participants, they felt sleepy.

This Is Why Gout Flare-Ups Tend to Occur at Night

Gout attacks may occur more frequently at night for a few reasons:

  • Your breathing pattern shifts: In addition to breathing slower while you’re sleeping, your lungs release less carbon dioxide than they do when you’re awake. The additional carbon dioxide may make your blood more acidic and cause uric acid to start forming.
  • Your body temperature has dropped: Your body temperature does decrease while you sleep, albeit very little. The decrease may lead to the formation of uric acid crystals in the joints, which would cause an abrupt onset of pain.
  • You suffer from sleep apnea: According to a study in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy, those who have obstructive sleep apnea are 1.86 times more likely to get gout than those who don’t.However, this risk was removed when other possible causes were taken into account, including body mass index (BMI), smoking status, alcohol consumption, history of heart failure, diabetes, kidney function, and use of specific medications that increase gout.

How to Manage Gout Sleep Issues

If you haven’t already, talk to your doctor about taking a uric acid-lowering medication like allopurinol or febuxostat. Getting your gout flares under control will help you sleep better.

Here are a few more options you and your doctor could consider to treat your gout and get a good night’s sleep.

  • Use cold compresses: During an attack, a cold compress or pack may help reduce swelling and pain. If you don’t have one on hand, try wrapping ice or a frozen water bottle in a washcloth and applying it to the painful area. According to a clinical study, ice and other cold applications were significantly more effective than heat at reducing joint pain.
  • Pain relievers: Anti-inflammatory steroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be used to treat gout flares. Corticosteroids, on the other hand, may occasionally act as stimulants and cause difficulty falling asleep. Additionally, stay away from aspirin, which may raise your uric acid levels.
  • Get some quality rest: One of the best things you can do when your gout flares up is to reduce the pressure on the affected joint until you feel better. To lessen swelling, try elevating the injured joint on a pillow or bunched-up blanket.

Tips to Help Prevent Nighttime Gout Attacks

Sometimes it’s impossible to fall asleep due to the pain and discomfort of the flare. How then can you manage your pain and get a better night’s sleep?

Most experts concur that talking to your doctor about how to lessen your gout attacks is crucial. However, uric acid-lowering lifestyle adjustments can be crucial.

Stay Away From Alcohol

One study with over 700 gout sufferers discovered a strong correlation between alcohol consumption and the risk of recurrent gout attacks.

Beer, liquor, and wine do not directly raise uric acid levels, but all alcohol consumption, including wine, causes dehydration, which may worsen gout flare-ups.

Additionally, all alcohol dehydrates the body, which may lead to flare-ups of gout, and alcohol is converted by the body into an acid.

Make a comfortable sleeping environment

Caffeine should be avoided in the afternoon, screen time on phones, TVs, and other devices should be limited to an hour or two before bed, and good sleep hygiene should be followed.

In other words, aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night and go to bed at roughly the same time each night.

Maintain a healthy diet

Gout may be better managed with a healthy diet, medication, and lifestyle changes. Consume foods that are low in purine, a chemical compound that, when metabolized, may produce more uric acid. Vegetables, whole grains, citrus fruits, beans and lentils, tofu, low-fat dairy, and other low-purine foods are available.

According to a study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, eating too many purine-rich foods — such as red meat, organ meats, seafood, alcohol, and sugary foods — increased the risk of gout attacks, but avoiding these foods reduced the risk.

Regular exercise

Exercising helps to control gout by lowering uric acid levels and preventing flare-ups. Additionally, staying active may aid in weight loss, which is another factor in lowering uric acid levels (fat in the body carries more uric acid than muscle).

Try low-impact exercise, like walking, as well as stretching to keep your joints flexible.

Keep Hydrated

Carry a water bottle with you at all times to ensure that you get enough water to flush uric acid out of your system. Dehydration may also cause an increase in the uric acid buildup.

The Arthritis Foundation recommends eight beverages per day (preferably water), with the possibility of increasing to 16 beverages per day if you have frequent flares.

The Bottom Line

You must lose the excessive weight and make sure to exercise regularly since this will naturally make a big difference towards your sleep apnea condition as well as your gout and God knows what other health risks you may face in the future.

Before bedtime what might also help you with sleep apnea is drinking some warm milk or buttermilk. If you prefer tea, then drink some valerian or passionflower tea to calm and relax you.

I occasionally do this myself, although I don’t presently suffer from sleep apnea I do occasionally snore from what my wife tells me. So I’m definitely going to keep that in check moving forward and so should you.

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