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Gout: Symptoms, causes, and treatment

Overview

It is a form of arthritis that occurscommonly in men between ages 30 to 50 and in women after menopause. Gout causes severe joint pain in areas like the toes, ankles, knees and elbows. Numerous factors put some people at risk of developing this disease.

What is Gout ?

Gout is a type of arthritis where your body has more uric acid than usual. This excess uric acid turns into urate crystals, which gets deposited in the joints leading to an attack of acute gout. During acute gout you feel sudden onset intolerable pain in the affected joint. In ancient times, people referred to gout as the ‘king’s disease’ because only wealthy people had access to plenty of alcohol and red meats, which are strongly linked with the development of gout.

What are the Symptoms of Gout?

Gout symptoms may include severe pain and swelling in joints associated with redness, hot to touch and burning sensation. You may also notice prolonged discomfort and restricted movement. Gout attacks often come suddenly. For example, you may wake up with joint pain in the middle of the night. In most cases, joint pain occurs in only one joint at a time. Initial 36 hours are usually the most painful. In some instances, flare-ups can last up to 10 days. Gout causes enormous discomfort and affects your daily life. Some symptoms include:

  • Swelling and pain in joints limiting the movement of the joints
  • Sudden intolerable joint pain in the middle of the night or early morning
  • Swelling, redness, and tender joints
  • Unable to weight bear or walk due to pain

When to See a Doctor?

In most cases, the gout attack persists for more than 24 hours. Seek medical advice if you experience sudden attacks of severepain in one joint. Gout can cause a lot of lead to permanent damage to to your joints left untreated. You can seek expert care with Apollo Hospitals to prevent recurrent gout attacks and protect your joint.

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What are the Causes of Gout?

Gout disease develops when urate crystals get deposited in your joints. Certain foods like red meat, liver, steak, seafood and dehydration during summer or secondary to diarrhoea may trigger a gout attack. Consumption of excess alcohol also leads to high levels of uric acid in the blood. Sedentary lifestyle and comorbidities like heart and kidney problems can put you at risk of developing gout.

What are the Treatment Options for Gout?

Certain medications are effective in treating acute gout, these are followed by use of specific drugs to keep uric acid level under control. Patients who experience recurring gout symptoms may need long-term treatment to prevent attacks of acute gout. 

Who is at the Risk of Developing Gout?

Having higher levels of uric acid in the body increases your chances of developing gout. There are some risk factors involved in developing gout disease, such as:

  • Diet. Consumption of food with high protein content, red meat, sea food, etc increases uric acid levels, thereby putting you at risk of developing gout.
  • Age. Men of age group 30 to 50 years and postmenopausal women are at higher risk of getting gout.  
  • Obesity. Having extra kilos may lead to many health-related problems including metabolic syndrome which is a risk factor to develop gout. Obesity also puts extra pressure on already inflamed joints.
  • Sex. Men are more prone to get gout than women.
  • Medical Conditions. People with certain medical conditions are at risk of having high uric acid levels. These include untreated hypertension (blood pressure), heart problems, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and other chronic illnesses. Post-transplant patients too are at higher risk of getting gout.
  • Certain Medicines. Certain medications like diuretics may cause increased uric acid levels in the body.
  • Stress. People who suffer trauma or have undergone major surgery are at risk of developing this disease especially if they already had high uric acid in their body.
  • Family History. If your first degree relative had a gout history, you would likely develop this condition.

What are the Complications of Gout Disease?

Coping with gout disease is not easy. If left untreated, it may lead to irreversible damage to joints leading to chronic pain.

  • Tophi. Gout not just causes severe pain and inflammation but also leads to bony erosions. Untreated gout may lead to deposition of urate crystals under the skin that are known as tophi.
  • Recurring Gout Disease. Unless uric acid level in within normal limits you are prone to get recurrent attacks of gout. Untreated gout may cause substantial damage to your joints.

How to Prevent Gout Disease?

With the help of medicines along with dietary and lifestyle changes, you can prevent future gout attacks.

  • Increase Your Water Intake: Drinking plenty of water can help aid your kidney function. Water helps to flush out uric acid and prevent kidney stones. Limit intake of sweetened syrups.
  • Limit Your Alcohol Intake: Alcohol is one of the primary triggers of gout. Limiting alcohol consumption will control gout symptoms and other chronic diseases like heart and liver problems.
  • Restrict Use of Red Meats: Red meat increases the production of uric acid. An excess amount of uric acid turns into urate crystals. These crystals are responsible for pain and discomfort in gout.
  • Lose Extra Kilos if You are Overweight: Lose weight to reduce uric acid levels. Being overweight can put you at risk of developing gout. Follow the daily exercise routine. Make healthy changes in your diet.

Conclusion

Men are at more risk of developing gout disease. Gout can cause permanent damage to your joints and restrict your movement. Certain foods like organ meat, red meat, seafood may trigger gout. You can consider making necessary changes in your lifestyle and diet to prevent gout. Gout can be controlled and complications can be minimized when treated appropriately in  timely manner .

 

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Verified By Dr Uma Karjigi
MBBS, MRCP (UK), MRCP ( Rheumatology), CCT Consultant Rheumatologist Apollo Hospitals

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