What is Gout?

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Gout is a form of arthritis that is unusually painful. A slight touch can send shooting pain. The most common area for gout to occur is in the metatarsal phalangeal joint of the big toe. Other areas of the body frequently affected by gout include the knees, elbows, fingers, ankles and wrists. 

Gout occurs when there are elevated levels of uric acid in the blood. This condition is called hyperuricemia. Hyperuricemia is a genetically pre-disposed condition about 90% of the time. It occurs because the kidneys do not produce the proper amount of uric acid. Children of parents who have had gout will have a 20% chance of developing it themselves. Excess uric acid in the blood forms crystals that deposit in between joints, causing friction with movement. 

Symptoms of gout caused by friction include pain, redness, swelling, and inflammation. Fever and fatigue may occur as well, although these symptoms are rare. The pain can be worse during the night, when the body’s temperature lowers.

Gout can be diagnosed clinically by a doctor’s observation of the redness, swelling, and pain. More definitive tests can be performed by the doctor as well. Blood tests check for elevated uric acid levels in the blood. The synovial fluid in the joint can also be withdrawn through a needle and checked for uric acid crystals. Chronic gout can be diagnosed by X-ray.

Treatment for acute gout diminishes the symptoms. Non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Colchicine and other corticosteroids, will stop the swelling, redness, and inflammation in cases of acute gout. If gout becomes chronic, there are multiple ways to combat it. Lifestyle changes and changes in diet may be necessary, as well as taking preventative drugs. 

Gout can be aggravated by a sedentary lifestyle. Exercise will reduce the probability of future cases of gout. Certain foods cause or increase the risk of gout and their consumption should be avoided or kept at a minimum. These foods include red meat, alcohol, seafood, and drinks sweetened with fructose. 

Lifestyle changes and diet will help decrease the chance of gout recurring. Gout preventative foods include those with Vitamin C, coffee, and some dairy products. New drugs have been discovered that inhibit the body’s production of certain enzymes producing uric acid. Lowering your levels of uric acid will greatly reduce the chances of developing additional cases of gout.

foot careBecky Reese