What is Gout?
Gout is a form of arthritis that is caused by a build-up of uric acid – a waste product which is secreted from the kidneys. It affects the joints in the body, in particular the big toe, and can be very painful for sufferers. Gout is predominantly experienced in men between the ages of 40 and 60 and women between the ages of 60 and 80. Gout is curable through medication and diet and lifestyle changes.
Causes of Gout
As said before, gout is caused by a build-up of uric acid which is produced by the digestive system and in particular, the kidneys. Usually this is passed out through urination but if your body produces too much it can build up and cause crystals to form. These usually rest in your joints and cause inflammation and pain.
There are a number of gout causes, some of which are hereditary and some of which are down to diet and lifestyle. Gout has been proven to run in families, and if you have a close relative who suffers from gout, you have a 20% chance of also suffering from it at some point in your life. Other courses of gout include a diet that is high in alcohol (beer in particular), red meat and seafood, and medical conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney failure and psoriasis.
Symptoms of Gout
It is very difficult, if not almost impossible to determine when somebody is about to suffer from gout. The signs of gout appear very quickly and can last for anywhere between three and ten days. Gout symptoms usually begin during the night with a sharp pain in the big toe usually being the most immediate sign. Other gout signs and symptoms include:
• Swelling around the joints
• Shiny red skin around the affected area
• Itchy, flaking and peeling skin around the affected joint
Although most people who suffer from gout will initially experience the gout symptoms in their big toe, other joints can also be prone.
If you are experiencing gout, your treatment will include relieving the symptoms and preventing the disease from striking again. During gout, you will be advised to keep the affected joint cool by removing your clothing and placing an ice pack on the area. You should also take a lot of rest and elevate the affected joint to prevent knocking it accidentally. Your gout treatment will also include medication – mainly anti-inflammatory drugs – for the duration of the attack. Corticosteroids may also be prevented for extremely severe cases and for cases of gout that do not respond to other forms of treatment.
To prevent further attacks of gout, your gout treatment will also include making diet and lifestyle changes and perhaps taking further medication to keep the illness under control. Allopurinol is prescribed in most cases to keep the uric acid levels under control. If your gout is caused by another condition it is important to manage the initial condition as best as possible.
The best remedy however is to monitor your diet. You may be referred to a dietician who can help you to come up with a gout diet which will help reduce your risk of further gout attacks. Red meat, seafood, certain vegetables and beer can all lead to attacks of gout as can obesity.