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Can Sleep Apnea Cause Psoriasis?

Posted Aug 16 2010 1:27am 1 Comment

How is psoriasis connected to obstructive sleep apnea? You may think I'm crazy for even making the suggestion, but if you look at the studies, the results don't lie—you just have to connect the dots.

I've always wondered about this link, since almost every known medical condition is proven to be or possibly associated with obstructive sleep apnea. I was reminded about this connection when I read about golfer Phil Mickelson's psoriatic arthritis. I already commented on the association between sleep apnea and arthritis, and this time, I'm going to show you that psoriasis may be connected as well.

First of all, numerous studies have shown that people with psoriasis have a much higher chance of having cardiovascular disease. There are other reports that psoriasis is associated with an increased incidence of cancer, lymphoma, obesity, metabolic syndrome (also known as "Syndrome X"), autoimmune diseases (Crohn's disease and diabetes, etc.), psychiatric diseases (such as depression and sexual dysfunction), psoriatic arthritis, sleep apnea, personal behavior issues, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  If you have severe psoriasis, the likelihood that you'll have a heart attack is 3 times normal . Your chance of dying overall is almost doubled than if you didn't suffer from this condition. Average life expectancy is about 3 to 5 years shorter for someone with psoriasis.

We also know that obstructive sleep apnea can cause metabolic syndrome, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, inflammation, heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Your risk of dying early increases 45% if you have severe obstructive sleep apnea.

There's even a case report of someone with severe psoriasis who was completely cured after undergoing gastric bypass surgery for obesity.

Here's my take on the connection between obstructive sleep apnea and psoriasis: The chronic stress response and repeated episodes of hypoxia deprives the skin of vital blood flow and nutrients. Sympathetic activity overload preferentially shuts down certain parts of the body that are considered unessential, such as the digestive system, reproductive system, and the skin. In addition, chronic low-grade stress also causes your immune system to overreact and cause inflammation, inducing various self-destroying tendencies that are common with autoimmune conditions.

What do you think about this possible connection? I'd like to hear your opinion.

Comments (1)
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Hi there,

I am really intrigued by what this article suggests, here goes with some background info:

...I have been suffering from psoriasis since 2003 in my early twenties. It started with a small spot on the back of my head and since then it has spread all over my body in patches. Lately (the last 2 years or so) the rate of new areas of my skin affected, has increased somewhat. Topical ointments are proving less effective. In addition, for the last year I have developed the arthritic form as well - specifically in my littles toes on my left foot and right knee (i have not had this diagnosed yet - but base it on the readings I have done and the fact that anti-inflammotories help when in severe pain).

Apparently I have been snoring very loudly for quite a few years now - and my wife tells me that I am not breathing for a few seconds during my sleep as well. I am experiencing many of the symptoms associated with sleep apnoea - tiredness while driving / groggy / dry throat / throat feeling restricted. I am not overweight - but was very thin all my life until my early twenties when I started picking up some weight.

 So your article raises many questions for me as was during reading up on sleep apnoea that I tried to see if any link exists between the 2....


Jonathan - Cape Town, South Africa


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