Recent studies have found out a correlation between sleep apnea and gout. Researchers said that persons who suffered from sleep apnea had a higher chance of developing gout.
Gout is common and is a type of arthritis that results in pain, swelling, and stiffness in the major joints of the leg such as the toe, ankle, and knee. Sleep apnea affects an estimated of 12 million people in the US alone. This large percentage of people affected with sleep apnea makes them prone to other problems associated with it such as gout.
Long and repeated interruptions during sleep are common for patients suffering from sleep apnea. This can affect many of the critical bodily functions leading to further complications if left untreated.
What is Gout?
Gout refers to painful arthritis where the individual experiences sudden and sharp pain in the leg joints. The affected area can become swollen and further movements will cause more pain making it difficult to walk. All the important joints of the leg such as the big toe, knee, and ankles are prone to gout. This is caused mainly due to the buildup of urate crystals in the affected joint.
The increased concentration of uric acid in the blood is one reason for the development of urate crystals. Excess uric acid can accumulate in the blood when it does not dissolve in blood or the kidneys fails to remove them from the body through urine. This causes the urate crystals to accumulate on the joints of the legs and even the hands causing pain and swelling.
Sleep Apnea and Gout
The studies conducted by researchers have proven that approximately 50 percent of the individuals who suffer from sleep apnea are prone to gout. The researchers have come up with several reasons, the most convincing being the deprivation of oxygen during sleep apnea.
The deprivation of oxygen in the blood during sleep apnea causes damage to the cells and tissues and a buildup of uric acid in the blood. These can cause the uric acid to turn into urate crystals and accumulate in the joints causing pain and swelling. Besides, there are other reasons as well that connect the two conditions; such as the various after-effects of sleep apnea like high blood pressure.
Treating gout linked to sleep apnea requires first addressing the problem of the sleep disorder itself. Effective treatment options such as a mouthpiece for sleep apnea enables adequate air intake and maintain proper oxygen levels, which in turn would help in a healthy concentration of uric acid in the blood. This can prevent gout and other painful conditions from developing in the first place. However, note that gout should be treated specifically, so proper diagnosis by a specialist is essential to permanently relieve the problem.