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Gout is an arthritis that causes severe pain in the joints. It causes the joints to swell up and cause a lot of pain. The body makes a chemical named Uric acid. This is present in the blood. In normal cases, majority of this uric acid is passed out from the body through urine and stool. However, for the people those have the condition of gout, the level of uric acid created by the body increases. This increase in production of uric acid causes small crystals to form. These crystals are usually collected in between joints. These crystals cause irritation to the tissue surrounding the joint and swell it up. This attack of pain and swelling is called ‘gout attack.’ In a gout attack, the pain and the swelling are at their extreme for around 6 to 24 hours while the symptoms remain for 3 to 10 days. After the attack, the joint will feel normalized again, and the pain will eventually disappear.
What causes the Uric Acid Levels to Alleviate?
Naturally, there is a fine balance between the amount of uric acid you produce and the amount of urine you pass. However, people having gout cannot excrete the uric acid as much as they produce it. Although their kidneys may work fine otherwise, yet they do not excrete enough uric acid. This causes the levels to rise.
What factors increase the risk of developing gout?
Although anyone can develop gout, some factors may increase the chances. The following factors are considered important for developing gout conditions:
- Being a male
- Being overweight
- Having high blood pressure
- Having diabetes
- Have a medical history of gout
- Having a kidney problems that may hinder the elimination of uric acid
- Having a purine-rich diet
- Too much intake of alcohol and beer
Symptoms of Gout
Even though a person may be developing uric acid crystals for some time, it is hard to find exact symptoms for gout. The signs of gout are mostly acute and often occur at night or suddenly. The first signs of gout are to have intense joint pain. This pain is usually in the joint of the big toe but may also be in the hands, feet, and ankle and wrist joints. Like previously stated, this pain is most severe for the initial 6-24 hours and will eventually subside.
If, after any severe joint pain, a person experiences some discomfort or lingering pain, then this is a sign of gout. In addition, if the joint develops redness and is swollen, then a person should be tested for gout.
Diagnosis for Gout
There are two options that a physician might opt for to test whether a person has gout or not. First, there is a joint fluid test. In this test, the doctor extracts a sample of the liquid from between the affected joint through a thin needle. This fluid is then tested for the presence of urate crystals. The second method is to test the blood for elevated levels of uric acid. However, this test is at times misleading. There are cases in which people that have high uric acid levels have never experienced gout. On the other hand, there are gout patients with normal levels of uric acid in their bloodstream.
Treatment for Gout
For treating gout successfully, a combination of lifestyle changes along with medications is required. The medications chosen by the doctor are in relation to the patient’s current health and the patient’s medical history. For gout attacks, anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed. These help the pain to lessen and the swelling to reduce. A higher dose of these drugs lessens the current gout attack and then the dose is reduced to prevent from future attacks of gout.
Other than this, there are drugs given to normalize the levels of uric acid in the blood. These drugs will not help in a gout attack but with regular use, they will help reduce the frequency of the attacks.
Additionally, there are simple lifestyle choices that a person can make to help in the treatment as well as the prevention of gout. It is very important to have a balanced weight. However, be sure that the weight is lost in a healthy manner and does not promote an increase in uric acid as in the case of high protein diets. Lowering the intake of alcohol and sugar sweetened drinks are also helpful. By avoiding a diet, that includes a lot of liver, seafood and kidneys, a person can avoid the uric acid levels to climb.
Gout is a painful condition of the joints. It cannot be cured completely. The signs of gout can also be very misleading so if a person experiences any discomfort in the joints for a few weeks, it is best to consult a doctor.
However, with the use of the right drugs and by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, a person can be able to reduce the attacks and the severity of them, as well.
Mayo Clinic. "Gout Basics." 6 December 2011. Mayo Clinic. 25 March 2014 <http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gout/basics/definition/con-20019400>.
NHS. "Gout." 2014. NHS Choices. 25 March 2014 <http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/gout/Pages/Introduction.aspx>.