Everything about Gout and How to Deal with it
It is a form of arthritis that often affects the big toe. The excessive uric acid in the bloodstream or hyperuricemia and the uric acid crystal deposits in the body tissues cause gout. Uric acid crystal accumulates, joints are then inflamed which induces intense pain, swelling, redness, heat, and stiffness in the joints. It may occur not only in the big toes but also affects other areas such as joints in the elbows, thumbs, digits, knees, and ankles. Men suffer gout more often than women and usually develops it in ages between 30 to 50. Women after menopause, overweight men, and the person on diuretic medication are the individuals that are prone to gout. Pain caused by gout can be treated and mild cases are can be managed with proper diet.
What Causes Gout?
Uric acid is the byproduct produced by food and the body. It is dissolved in the blood and is excreted in the urine via the kidneys. If there is a high level of uric acid produced and is not excreted, it causes gout. The excess uric acid builds up and forms crystals in the joints and tendons. This causes inflammation and leads to swelling, redness, and intense pain.
Consumption of alcohol in excess contributes to gout and may trigger gout attacks especially with beer. Gout may also be associated with stress, certain surgical procedures, injuries, hospitalizations, certain medications, or even diets with high consumption of meat and seafood. Gout may also occur with a kidney disorder, lead poisoning, enzyme deficiencies, and some cancers. Individuals with diabetes, hypertension, and obesity are susceptible to gout.
What are the signs and symptoms of gout?
- An Intense and sudden onset of pain felt in a joint which occurs in the middle of the night or early in the morning.
- Swelling and redness of joint.
- The affected area is warm to touch.
“Joint effusion” is the medical name for the excess liquid in the joint. This condition usually affects the lower extremities but commonly takes place in “podagra” or the big toe. Tophi are the lumps formed surrounding the joint. Tophi are commonly be found cartilages of the upper ear, on the elbows and exterior of other joints. Medication is required because the presence of tophi is indicative of tophaceous gout.
Uric acid crystals may accumula te in the kidney and is a sign of gout that may also lead to kidney stones.
How is gout diagnosed?
- Joint Fluid Test. Fluid is extracted from the affected joint and is studied under the microscope for the presence of uric crystals.
- Blood Test. This is done to check for high levels of uric acid but it doesn’t always indicate gout.
- X-ray. This is used to rule out other conditions.
How to treat gout?
NSAIDs or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, Colchicine, Corticosteroids, ACTH or Adrenocorticotrophic hormone, and any combination of these drugs are used for acute treatment of gout.
Probenecid, Febuxostat, and Allopurinol are the lowering uric acid level agents for the long-term management. These drugs may trigger attacks of acute gout. In order to prevent this unwanted effect to occur, low dose of NSAIDs or Colchicine or low dose of prednisone can be taken concomitantly.
How to prevent gout?
Gout attacks and gout itself can be prevented with diet and lifestyle modification.
Avoid eating food with high purine content and high intake of alcohol (particularly beer); lessen or restrict consumption of sweetened beverages, table sugar, desserts, sweet fruit juices and limit the use of salt. Obese individuals are encouraged to lose weight. Stick to a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet (if appropriate). And stay hydrated with water.