Sleep apnea may increase gout risk due to hyperuricemia: Study

ThinkstockPhotos-500159715Sleep apnea has been found to increase gout risk due to hyperuricemia, according to new research. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes the individual to wake up out of breath, and gout is a form of arthritis, which can be triggered by consuming foods high in purines. Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine have now found that sleep apnea should not be ignored as a possible risk factor for gout.

Sleep apnea is associated with hyperuricemia – an excess of uric acid, which is the primary cause of gout. For the study, researchers collected data from patients from the Health Improvement Network in the UK. 9,865 patients with sleep apnea were selected along with 43,598 patients without sleep apnea who were used as controls.


Researchers then analyzed incidences of gout in relation to sleep apnea. By the follow-up date, 270 gout cases had developed. Incidence rate was 8.4/1,000 person-years for individuals with sleep apnea and 4.8/1,000 person-years for those without.

Researchers concluded that sleep apnea is an independent risk factor for the development of gout. They said in the report, “Future research should examine the potential benefits of correcting sleep apnea-induced hypoxia on the risk of hyperuricemia and gout flares.”

Sleep apnea and hyperuricemia link

ThinkstockPhotos-178642953-300x199In an alternative study, researchers analyzed data from 525 patients studied by polysomnography in a sleep lab in Mallorca, Spain. Patients were assessed for prevalence of hyperuricemia, relationship between uric acid and sleep apnea, and the severity of metabolic abnormalities.

Patients with hyperuricemia were found to be older, heavier and have more severe sleep apnea. Furthermore, these patients had higher C-reactive protein levels, higher creatinine, higher insulin resistance and higher metabolic index. Even when results were altered to exclude diabetics, they still revealed the same outcome.

In conclusion, the study showed intermittent hypoxia and metabolic abnormalities affect uric acid levels in sleep apnea patients who do not receive treatment.

Stopping a gout attack

gout attackIf you have gout, you know the pain and discomfort it can cause. Here are some tips to better manage and stop gout attacks when they strike.

Keep medication on hand – at the earliest signs of a gout attack take an anti-inflammatory, but avoid aspirin as it can make it worse.
Ice it – to reduce swelling begin icing the affect joint right away. It will also decrease blood flow to the area, which reduces pain.
Call your doctor – let your doctor know what is going on. They may have you go in to see them or prescribe medication.
Drink fluids – being hydrated helps flush uric acid out of the body.
Avoid alcohol – alcohol, especially beer, contains high levels of purines, which can worsen the attack.
Get a cane – using an assistive walking device will alleviate pressure.
Elevate your foot – once again this will slow down blood flow to the joint, which leads to pain and swelling.
Relax – added stress can aggravate gout.

Sleeping with gout pain

When gout pain strikes even the gentlest of touch to the affected area can cause pain, so sleeping can become quite problematic. To alleviate gout pain while sleeping, it’s wise to keep your bed sheets off of your foot. Instead, leave your foot free from clothing and covers.

Other advice is to cut the toes off your socks, so the rest of your foot can stay warm while your toe is free from pain. It’s also a good idea to take pain medication to ease the discomfort.

Guidelines for treating gout and sleep apnea

Many of the tips to ease gout and sleep apnea are the same; therefore, following these tips can actually improve both conditions simultaneously.

  • Lose excess weight.
  • Control conditions like hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol.
  • Don’t eat organ meats.
  • Limit shellfish, fruit juices, sugar and salt.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol.
  • Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water.
  • Control uric acid levels to manage gout and sleep apnea

ThinkstockPhotos-177335124-300x200Gout is caused due to a build-up of uric acid. Uric acid is a product of purines, which are found in many foods we eat every day. In order to control uric acid, it’s important to avoid foods high in purines. Below is a list of foods you should limit or avoid if you want to better manage gout and sleep apnea.

  • Complex carbohydrates
  • Foods with saturated and trans fats
  • Organ meats
  • Shellfish
  • Alcohol

On the other hand, these are the foods you should incorporate to better control uric acid levels.

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Cherries
  • Baking soda
  • Olive oil
  • Water
  • High fiber foods
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Wheatgrass juice

Related Reading:

Gout risk higher with purine-rich foods in diet raising uric acid levels

Gout risk is higher with purine-rich foods as it increases uric acid levels. Purines are a chemical compound found in some foods. Gout is a condition that affects joints and the musculoskeletal system. It is a form of inflammatory arthritis caused by an excess of uric acid. Uric acid is the product of metabolic processes. Continue reading…


14 Natural remedies for gout pain relief

Gout pain can be debilitating, so using natural remedies can offer gout suffers much relief. Gout is a condition characterized by a buildup of uric acid. Uric acid is the result of purines breaking down, which are found naturally in the human body as well as in food. Continue reading…


Author Bio

Mohan Garikiparithi got his degree in medicine from Osmania University (University of Health Sciences). He practiced clinical medicine for over a decade before he shifted his focus to the field of health communications. During his active practice he served as the head of the Dept. of Microbiology in a diagnostic centre in India. On a three-year communications program in Germany, Mohan developed a keen interest in German Medicine (Homoeopathy), and other alternative systems of medicine. He now advocates treating different medical conditions without the use of traditional drugs. An ardent squash player, Mohan believes in the importance of fitness and wellness.


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