Gout is a growing and complex arthritis type which can affect anyone. It’s marked by sudden, extreme attacks in the joints pain, swelling, redness and tenderness, often the joint at the base of the big toe.
A gout attack can happen all of a sudden, sometimes waking you up in the middle of the night with the feeling your big toe is on fire. The affected joint is warm, swollen, and so tender that it can seem painful even the weight of the sheet on.
Gout symptoms can go and come, but there are ways of managing symptoms and preventing flares.
Symptoms of Gout
Gout signs and symptoms almost always manifest all of a sudden, most sometimes at night. They include:
Severe Joint Pain: Gout usually affects the big toe’s broad joint but it can happen in any joint. The feet, knees, elbows, wrists, and fingers are also frequently affected joints. The pain will generally be most intense within the first four to twelve hours after it begins.
Lingering Discomfort: Some joint malaise can last from a few days to a few weeks after the most extreme pain subsides. More likely later attacks would last longer and affect more joints.
Inflammation and Redness: The affected joints become swollen, soft, hot and red.
Limited Range of Motion: The joints may not be able to work properly as gout progresses.
When to see a doctor
When you experience unexpected, severe joint pain, call your doctor. Gout which goes untreated can cause pain and joint damage to worsen.
If you have a fever and a joint is hot and inflamed which may be a sign of infection seek urgent medical attention.
Causes of Gout
Gout happens when urate crystals accumulate in joints, which causes the swelling and extreme pain of a gout attack. If you have high levels of uric acid in your blood, urea crystals will form.
Your body produces uric acid as it breaks down purines substances naturally present in your body.
Purines are also present in certain foods, including steaks, organ meats, and seafood. Other foods also promote higher levels of uric acid, like alcohol, particularly beer, and fructose
Uric acid usually dissolves in your blood and passes via your kidneys into the urine. But, either your body produces too much uric acid, or your kidneys excrete too little uric acid, sometimes. When it occurs, uric acid may build up in joint or surrounding tissue, forming sharp, needle-like urate crystals that cause pain, inflammation and swelling.
If you have elevated levels of uric acid in your body you are more likely to develop gout. Factors which increase the level of uric acid in your body include:
Diet: Eating a diet rich in meat and fish, and consuming sweetened drinks with fruit sugar (fructose), raises uric acid levels, which increases the risk of gout. Particularly from beer, also increases the risk of gout.
Obesity: If you are overweight, your body will produce more uric acid and your kidneys will have a tougher time removing uric acid.
Medical Conditions: Some diseases and situations raise the risk of gout. These involve untreated hypertension and chronic disorders such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart and kidney disease.
Certain Medications: Usage of thiazide diuretics — widely used for treating hypertension — and low-dose aspirin can also raise levels of uric acid. So does the use of prescription anti-rejection medications for people who have undergone an organ transplant.
Family history of gout: When you have inherited gout from other family members, you are more likely to inherit the disease.
Age and Sex: Gout happens more often in men mostly because women appear to have lower levels of uric acid. Nevertheless, after menopause, the uric acid levels of women exceed those of men. Men are often more likely to develop gout earlier — typically between the ages of 30 and 50 — while women normally develop after menopause signs and symptoms.
Gout people can develop more serious conditions, like:
Recurrent Gout: Many people can never again experience the signs and symptoms of gout. Some can experience gout several times every year. Medications in people with chronic gout can help prevent gout attacks. If left untreated, gout causes joint erosion and destruction.
Advanced Gout: Untreated gout can cause urate crystal deposits to form in nodules called tophi (TOE-fie) below the skin. Tophi can grow in many areas like your fingers, hands, feet, elbows or Achilles tendons with the back of the ankles. Tophi normally aren’t painful but during gout attacks, they can get swollen and tender.
Kidney Stones: Urate crystals can accumulate in people’s urinary tract, causing stones in their kidneys. Medicines can help reduce the risk of kidney stones.
Prevention of Gout
These dietary guidelines will help protect against potential gout attacks during periods free from symptoms:
Drink plenty of fluids: Keep well hydrated, drink plenty of water. Limit the number of sweetened drinks you drink, particularly those sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup.
Limit or avoid alcohol: Speak to your doctor about whether you are sure about some quantity or form about alcohol. Recent research indicates that beer can increase the risk of symptoms of gout, especially in men.
Get your protein from low-fat dairy products: Low-fat dairy products may have a gout-protective effect, so these are your best-bet protein sources.
Limit your meat, fish and poultry intake: A small amount can be tolerable, but be careful what kinds and how much problems.
Maintain Desirable Body Weight: Choose portions that help keep your weight balanced. Losing weight will decrease levels of uric acid in your body. But avoid fasting or quick weight loss, as doing so can temporarily raise levels of uric acid.