Gout is a terribly painful kind of arthritis that generally attacks just one joint at a time. The most common joint attacked is in the big toe. The condition varies between periods of activity,
called flares, and periods when no symptoms are present called remission.
The symptoms of gout are extreme pain, swelling, heat, and redness. The flares are brought on by an excess of uric acid in the body that causes crystals to form in joints. There are several things that can make a person more likely to experience gout. Recently, scientists discovered what might be a new risk factor for developing gout—sleep apnea.
The Sleep Apnea and Gout Connection
The study was published in Arthritis & Rheumatology and co-lead by Edward Roddy, a clinical lecturer in rheumatology at Keele University in Staffordshire, England. It involved data from nearly 80,000 people. All of the participants were followed for an average of six years.
The information gathered from the study revealed that people who suffer from sleep apnea had a 42 percent increased risk of developing gout. Sleep apnea is a condition that causes a person’s airway to be intermittently blocked while they sleep. As a result, they stop breathing for a moment, which affects the quality of sleep and can lead to serious complications.
The researchers determined that people were at the greatest risk for getting gout within two years of having been diagnosed with sleep apnea. And, the study showed that people who have sleep apnea and are of a normal weight are at more risk for gout than those who are obese or overweight.
Preventing a Gout Attack
The study did not definitively prove that sleep apnea is a cause of gout. However, the link between the two suggests that caregivers for older adults with sleep apnea may want to take steps to prevent gout.
Some ways to prevent a gout attack are:
- Limit alcohol consumption, especially beer.
- Avoid eating foods that can increase uric acids, such as meat, bacon, yeast, and sardines.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Drink plenty of liquids.
- Take medications prescribed by a doctor.
If your aging relative suffers from gout, a senior care provider can help them to prevent attacks and manage them when they occur. A senior care provider can remind the older adult to take over the counter painkillers during a flare. A senior care provider can also prepare an ice pack to ease the pain and swelling. To help prevent gout attacks, a senior care provider can prepare healthy meals that are low in uric acid and encourage the person to drink water throughout the day.