Sleep apnea and gout

Gout and Sleep Apnea

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 can occur 20 to 30 times per hour while sleeping!

There are 2 main types of sleep apnea which includes the common Obstructive Sleep Apnea occurring 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) promotes excess uric acid in the blood. In addition, sleep apnea can 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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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 decrease 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 levels of 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.

What is also interesting to point out is that sleep apnea can be triggering gout attacks since most attacks occur at night. It does this by lowering blood-oxygen levels at night caused from the sleep apnea and since uric acid levels rise with the increase of carbon dioxide in the blood, you have the potential of suffering from 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. 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 can 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 but 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.

Posted by Spiro Koulouris

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2 Comments

  • painfree

    Reply Reply January 31, 2015

    Actually the reduced oxygen in the blood resulting from the frequent cessation of breathing with sleep apnea has three effects which lead to a gout flare. The first effect is that the oxygen reduction causes the cells of the body to undergo a degenerative process which culminates in their generation of excess uric acid fed in the blood. The second effect of the oxygen reduction is that it makes the blood more acidic so that it can hold less uric acid in solution, making it more likely to precipitate as the crystals which cause a gout flare. The third effect is that over the long term the chronic intermittent reduction of oxygen causes the kidneys to be less effective so they remove less uric acid from the blood. Thus sleep apnea results in perfect storm conditions for the precipitation of the urate crystals which cause gout — increased influx of uric acid into the blood, reduced ability of the blood to prevent the precipitation by keeping the uric acid in solution, and reduced removal of uric acid from the blood by kidney action.

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