What is Gout?
Gout is an inflammatory form of the arthritis that develops in a person with high levels of uric acid and affects one or more joints in the body.
In fact, severe gout may affect many joints in the body together all at once. This condition is known as polyarticular gout.
Gout is usually accompanied by the uric acid symptoms of joint redness, joint pain, swollen joints, and a sensation of warmth in the affected joints.
Normal uric acid levels in the body are 2.4-6.0 mg/dL (female) and 3.4-7.0 mg/dL (male), though the values may vary from laboratory to laboratory analysis.
When the uric acid level in the blood rises above 7mg/dL, problems such as kidney stones and gout can occur.
Gout is a general term for various conditions caused by a high level of uric acid. This buildup of uric acid usually affects your feet.
If anyone has gout, he/she probably feel swelling and pain in the joints of the foot, particularly big toe, Sudden and intense pain, or gout attacks, may make it feel like a foot is on fire.
How does Gout occur?
Uric acid is produced by the natural breakdown of the body’s cells and from the foods, we eat. The kidneys are responsible to filter out uric acid from the body which then passes out of the body in urine.
If there is an excessive build-up of uric acid in our body and the kidneys are not able to filter it all out naturally, the level of uric acid in the body rises to a higher level.
High levels of uric acid in the blood may cause uric acid crystals to form in the joints. This causes the painful condition which we called gout.
It is a very complex disease and a variety of factors that can play a role in causing it. Some conditions, such as blood and metabolism disorders, can cause your body to produce too much uric acid. Drinking too much alcohol can also result in excess uric acid.
Some foods can also cause gout when you eat too much of them:
- Red meat
- Organ meat
- Sweet Juices
Some diseases, disorders, and condition, such as kidney or thyroid problems, can also impair your body’s ability to eliminate uric acid.
Specific medications can also make it hard for your body to flow out uric acids such as diuretics and immunosuppressive fungal medications, an example is a cyclosporine.
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Stages and symptoms of gout
There are four stages of this condition:
- Asymptomatic hyperuricemia
- Acute Gout
- Interval gout
- Chronic tophaceous gout
All stages vary in symptoms and treatment.
Hyperuricemia happens when a person has too much uric acid in your blood. If a person has no other symptoms, it’s called asymptomatic hyperuricemia.
Acute gout occurs when hyperuricemia causes uric acid crystals to develop in one of your joints. It causes pain and swelling and feet also feel warm. The symptoms will probably show up suddenly and last for 3 days to a week or up to 10 days. You may experience multiple acute gout attacks for a period of months or years.
Interval gout is the period between two acute gout attacks. It is also called intercritical gout. You won’t have any noticeable symptoms during this stage.
Chronic tophaceous gout
It can happen if you leave condition untreated. It may take 10 years or more longer to develop. In this stage, hard nodules like tophi develop in your joints and the skin and soft tissue surrounding them. Tophi may also develop in other parts of your body, such as your ears. They may cause permanent damage to your joints.
What are the causes of gout?
The causes of gout or rise of uric acid include:
- High levels of uric acid in the body
- A family history
- Medicines that can increase uric acid levels in the body
- Constantly eating a diet rich in red meat and seafood
- Excessive alcohol
What are the symptoms of gout?
The most common symptoms of gout are:
- Sudden and severe pain in a particular joint, typically in early mornings or in the middle of the night
- Joint tenderness
- A feeling of warmth in the affected joints
- Stiffness in the joint
- swollen joints
Diagnosis of Gout
If you feel that you suffer from any of the above symptoms of gout you can visit your doctor. A general physician generally treats this disease; however, if your condition is much severe he may refer you to a rheumatologist.
This disease is difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can be vague and may be from other conditions also.
Typically the following tests can be suggested by your doctor to diagnose this condition:
Joint fluid test:
To conduct this test your doctor takes a sample of synovial fluid from your joint. The fluid is examined under a microscope to check uric acid crystals. The joint fluid may also be cultured to rule out the presence of bacterial growth.
A blood test will help to find out the levels of uric acid and creatinine in your blood.
X-rays of joints can be helpful to check certain causes of joint inflammation.
Presence Uric acid crystals can be detected in a joint with the help of ultrasound technology.
Dual-energy CT scan:
This test though not often performed, It can find out the presence of urate crystals in a joint, even when it is not acutely inflamed.
Who is on Higher Risk of Gout?
Below is the list of people who are prone to this condition, People who…
- Consume a diet which is high in meat and seafood constantly.
- Excessive alcohol drinking.
- Suffer from medical conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure.
- Have a family history of this disease.
- Undergone recent surgery.
- Suffering from obesity.
- Have impaired kidney functions
- Women after menopause
Risk factors for gout
Risk factors for this disease include:
Men between around 40 to 50 years old and post-menopausal women are more likely to develop this condition.
Men are more prone than women to develop gout.
If you have someone in your family with this disease, you may be on risk to develop it as well.
Consuming too much purine-rich food raises your risk for this condition. Red meat, organ meat, and certain fish are the example of purine-rich foods.
Drinking more than 2 to 3 drinks a day puts you at higher risk of gout.
Some medications, for example, diuretics and cyclosporine, can put you at risk of gout.
Other health conditions:
High blood pressure, thyroid disease, sleep apnea, kidney disease, and diabetes can all raise your risk of gout.
What are the complications of gout?
Some complications of this disease include:
- Kidney stones
- Tophi, a condition that occurs when deposits of uric acid crystals form under the skin in nodules in areas of the body includes fingers, hands, feet, elbows or Achilles tendons along the backs of your ankles.
- Joint damage which may occur due to recurrent gout
What is the treatment for gout?
Medical Treatment for Gout
Medical treatment for this disease usually involves medicines. The doctor will prescribe medicines based on Patients current health condition.
Medications for this disease is usually prescribed to prevent future acute attacks and reduce the risk of complications.
People often wonder how they can exercise if they already suffering from gout as the joints are so painful and sensitive.
However, keep in mind that major inactivity can make you less flexible, and weaken your joints and muscles.
This can lead to bone loss and further intensify the symptoms of this condition. Exercising can keep you fit and healthy and help you to maintain ideal body weight.
Exercising will increase your energy, overall health and make your bones, joints, and muscles more strong, Else if you suffer from gout the bones and joints deteriorate over the time period.
Before deciding to pursue exercise make sure to discuss with your doctor and find out if the kind of exercises you are interested in is suitable for you.
Some of the exercises that can help are.
- Tai Chi
- Low impact aerobic exercises
You can take many steps to prevent this disease. For example:
- Limit the consumption of Alcohol
- Limit how much purine-rich food, including shellfish, beef, pork, lamb, and organ meat, you eat
- eat a low-fat, nondairy diet that’s rich in vegetables
- Lose weight
- Stop smoking
- Stay hydrated
- If you have medical conditions or take medications that can raise your risk of development of gout, ask your doctor how you can lower your risk of gout attacks.
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