Gout is a condition that causes sudden and severe attacks of pain, redness and swelling of joints. Gout is a condition has been well known for many centuries. Most often it affects a single joint in one episode, often the big toe. About 9 out of 10 affected individuals affected by gout are men over the age of 40. The peak age of attacks is 75 years, but it can occur in young individuals on rare occasions.
What causes gout?
Gout is due to accumulations of uric acid within the fluid of your joints. Uric acid is a waste product of many foods that we eat. In order to properly digest food, and rid our body of waste, we produce substances such as uric acid to transport waste material. Ultimately, uric acid is excreted via the kidneys in urine. However, when the transportation of uric acid is impaired, and uric acid accumulates in the blood stream, the condition called gout may result.
The impairment of uric acid excretion is often due to a hereditary problem, but can also have other causes. When the uric acid level becomes too high for an individual, painful attacks of gouty arthritis, or joint pain, can result. Other symptoms can include kidney stones, and, ultimately, kidney failure. It is interesting to note that the relationship between uric acid levels in the blood stream and gout is unclear. Some individuals with gout have normal or near normal blood levels of uric acid; other individuals have very high blood levels of uric acid with no symptoms of gout. It appears to be entirely dependent on the individual.
Gout is nothing but inflammation of joints. It is a most commonly found form of arthritis. Usually, gout appears in form of an acute attack. Within a period of 12 to 24 hours from the attack, the patients experiences severe pain accompanied by swelling in the affected joint. Fortunately, only one particular joint is affected by the gout at a time. Feet and ankles are the most common body parts affected by the gout. Big toe joint is another common site for occurrence of gout.
Symptoms of Gout
Inflammation, tenderness and swelling of a joint is the main and most common symptom of the gout. Usually, the tenderness if felt in the first toe joint.
Causes of Gout
Excessive uric acid in the human body is main cause behind development of gout. Such excess of uric acid can be caused due to various reasons like increased production of uric acid by body system or due to kidney’s inability to clear the uric acid from the body properly and adequately.
Causes of production Uric Acid
We know that increase in production of uric acid by body system is one of the major causes for development of gout. It is important to understand why production of uric acid is increased. Excessive use of alcohol, shellfish and some medications may lead to increase in uric acid production and result in gout attacks.
Prevention of Gout
Change in lifestyle and eating habits is considered as the best way of preventing development of gout. Rich foods and alcoholic beverages are considered as main factors that could raise the uric acid levels. Reduction in intake of such rich foods and alcohol can reduce production and deposit of uric acid and help you in prevention of gout.
Treatments for Gout
There are few therapies available for treating gout. Fortunately gout attacks subside within a period of a week or so and gout attacks are less frequent. There may be period ranging from months to even years between two gout attacks.
Following are some of the commonly used treatments.
• Colchicine : It is considered as the standard treatment for acute gout. You must consult your doctor before starting colchcine treatment as this treatment can produce adverse side effects like vomiting, nausea and diarrhea.
• Use of NSAIDs : Your physician may suggest use of anti-inflammatory (non-steroidal) drugs for treating your gout.NSAIDs are used specifically for treating indomethacin form of gout.
• Medications like allopurinol and probenecid are used when treatment is required for longer periods.
• Health complication created by Gout
• Development of muddles called tophi. These are caused by prolonged presence of high levels of uric acid in the body and deposits of uric acid salts as result of presence of uric acid for long time. These deposits can appear surrounding the affected joint or other body tissues like ears.
• People suffering from gout are on higher risk of kidney damage. High levels of uric acid combined with high blood pressure can lead to kidney damage.