Early Appointments Available
Take Our Sleep Assessment Patient Portal
1719 Mt Vernon Rd, Ste. A
Dunwoody, GA 30338
(770) 394-4310
Request Forms Like Us Review

What’s the Link Between Sleep Apnea & Rheumatoid Arthritis?

January 11, 2024

Filed under: Uncategorized — sleepdunwoodyteam @ 9:03 pm
Digital illustration of rheumatoid arthritis

Did you know that as many as 30% of Americans report that they struggle to fall or stay asleep? This percentage nearly doubles when looking at people who have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This autoimmune disease causes widespread inflammation that leads to stiffness, swelling, and joint pain. If you have RA and can never seem to get quality sleep, continue reading. There could be a link between your RA and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)! Continue reading to learn more about how they are related.

How Do Rheumatoid Arthritis and Obstructive Sleep Apnea Affect Each Other?

When someone has obstructive sleep apnea, their airway becomes partially or completely obstructed during sleep. This interrupts breathing for anywhere between 10 to 20 seconds at a time, depriving them of oxygen and prompting them to wake up. This can happen anywhere from a few times an hour to 60+ times! It isn’t completely certain what the link is between these two conditions, but here are some of the possibilities.

  • Inflammation: The inflammation associated with RA could play a role. This is because RA increases certain proinflammatory cytokines, like tumor necrosis factor (TNF). These intercellular signaling proteins are involved in the process of normal sleep regulation. Ultimately, this increase in TNF levels may increase susceptibility to OSA.
  • Structural Differences: The increased risk of OSA could have to do with the fact that RA can result in structural abnormalities of the head, neck, and spine. This can include an underdeveloped lower jaw, degeneration of the temporomandibular joint, and narrowing of the spaces between cervical vertebrae. These structural issues can all result in OSA.
  • Obesity: Approximately 2/3 of people who have RA are overweight while ½ of people with sleep apnea are overweight. Carrying extra weight increases your risk of developing OSA.

How Can Sleep Apnea Be Treated?

CPAP therapy works great for some, but others find it uncomfortable and prefer an alternative: oral appliances. An oral appliance is worn while you sleep and works by creating the ideal jaw position to keep the airway open as you sleep. This helps to prevent obstruction and gives you the quality, uninterrupted sleep you need to thrive. Oral appliances are customized for each patient, so you can trust that they are comfortable to wear throughout the night.

Rheumatoid arthritis and obstructive sleep apnea both have their challenges – especially when combined. By taking the steps to treat your sleep apnea, you can give yourself better sleep and a higher quality of life.

About the Author

Dr. Jeff Rodgers is an experienced dentist who has been in private practice for over 20 years! He specializes in dental sleep medicine and is a Diplomate of both the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine and the American Sleep and Breathing Academy. To learn more about sleep apnea and/or oral appliances, or to schedule an appointment at his office in Dunwoody, visit his website or call (770) 394-4310.

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.