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Is Sleep Apnea One of the Causes of Gout?

Jun 22, 2008
There are many different potential triggers for gout that you should be aware of if you suffer from the condition. One of the potential triggers that we've been asked about recently is sleep apnea. It may seem as though these two conditions are completely unrelated, but in reality, they are connected. The connection was first noticed when sleep apnea patients received treatment for their disorder and they noticed their gout symptoms simultaneously improved.

The reason for this link is believed to be the reduction in blood oxygen during apnea episodes, causing cell disintegration in the body and the generation of uric acid in the bloodstream. The cause of gout is, after all, the presence of uric acid crystals in the joints. Furthermore, during apnea there is an increase in the carbon dioxide percentage within the blood, making the blood's acidity level higher and increasing the risk of uric acid precipitation as monosodium urate. This can collect in the joints and can even lead to an increased risk of developing kidney stones.

This effect is very similar to what happens within the cells when excess alcohol is consumed. And it should be noted that drinking alcohol can cause sleep apnea to become more pronounced. Therefore, gout sufferers with sleep apnea have two major reasons to avoid drinking alcohol.

Other links between sleep apnea and gout include show up in the fact that not only are primary gout sufferers demographically the same as the primary sleep apnea sufferers (middle-aged, overweight men), but sleep apnea and gout are also both much more common among women who have been through menopause. Also, both gout and sleep apnea are associated with people who have a larger neck circumference.

Most notably, though, is that gout attacks are the most common while asleep, indicating that sleep has an impact on gout attacks and sleep disturbances and conditions may also influence the causes of gout attacks.

Until recently, gout and sleep apnea have been treated separately. However, many sleep apnea patients who implement treatments for that condition find that their gout improves at the same time.

The treatments for sleep apnea include preventative actions, such as avoiding sleeping on one's back. When sleeping on the back, the airway can become constricted and is more likely to close, causing the oxygen levels in the blood to be lower than in other sleeping positions. Therefore, changing the way you sleep can help to prevent gout attacks simply by increasing the overall blood oxygen level. Other sleep apnea treatments can include a pressurized CPAP mask or surgery.

No matter the final remedy, improvements to a patients sleep apnea problem ensures that blood oxygen levels remain high, minimizing uric acid and monosodium urate precipitation and therefore gout flare ups.

So, if you're suffering from gout, you may want to check to make sure that you are not also suffering from sleep apnea, as it may be one of the causes of gout aggravations in your body. Then you will be able to look into both sleep apnea treatments and remedies for the gout itself. Speak to your physician about undergoing a sleep study to determine if you have sleep apnea or not.

If you've suffered from a gout attack or two now is the time to take action to stop the attacks in their tracks and discover effective preventative steps before your uric acid levels get out of hand.
About the Author
Grab your free copy of Lisa McDowell's brand new Gout Newsletter - Overflowing with easy to implement methods to help you discover more about the different causes of gout and the natural gout home remedies that are available.
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