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How are Sleep Apnea & Rheumatoid Arthritis Related?

August 24, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — cosleepap @ 10:55 am
An arthritic man rubbing his hands

You may see arthritis as trivial at first. “After all,” you might think, “What’s the big deal about a few achy joints?” However, the condition can have unexpected effects. For example, there’s a connection between sleep apnea and rheumatoid arthritis. Namely, those with the former ailment tend to develop the latter one. As for the reason behind this link, let your Denver dentist explain things. To that end, here’s a summary of how sleep apnea and rheumatoid arthritis relate.

Sleep Apnea & Rheumatoid Arthritis are Linked

Most people assume rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has nothing to do with sleep apnea. Truthfully, though, patients with the first issue are at high risk of the second.

The latest scientific research backs this fact. In 2016, a study published by BMJ Open Body found that the sleep apnea rate was 75% greater among people with RA. Earlier, a 2009 study published by The Journal of Rheumatology reached a similar conclusion. Namely, its authors linked RA to a higher rate of heart disease – a known risk factor for sleep apnea.

Given the above, RA can greatly reduce your quality of life. Besides causing aching or tender joints, it might lead you to develop sleep apnea symptoms. These signs span daytime sleepiness, fatigue, headaches, and more.

What Explains This Link?

Technically, scientists are still unsure why people with RA are at higher risk of sleep apnea. That said, they have developed several possible explanations.  These include:

  • Head, Neck, & Spine Differences – The increased sleep apnea risk could stem from structural abnormalities in the head, neck, and spine. These differences are common in people with RA.
  • Inflammation – As it turns out, RA increases the inflammatory substances in the body. That increase could then disrupt the sleep process.
  • Obesity – Obesity is often a common connection between sleep apnea and rheumatoid arthritis. It’s been linked to an increased risk of both ailments.

How Can a Dentist Help?

While they can’t cure your RA, a dentist could treat your RA-induced sleep apnea. You just need to find one with the right expertise.

You see, many dentists address sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy. This service uses retainers or mouthguards to reposition your jaw during sleep. In particular, the appliances keep your airway open so you can breathe more easily. You’ll then snore less and get much better rest.

The connection between sleep apnea and rheumatoid arthritis is real. Therefore, watch for fitful sleeping if you develop the second problem.

About the Practice

Downtown Denver Sleep Solutions is based in Denver, CO. Led by Drs. Glenn Thompson and Gary Radz, our practice can easily rid you of sleepless nights. To that end, we provide various treatment options for sleep apnea and other sleep-related difficulties. Our main offerings range from at-home sleep testing to a diverse array of oral appliances. If you’d like more information or to book a visit, you can reach us on our website or by phone at (303)-3077-5337.

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