Over the years, we have heard people complain about a number of different ailments. One you might hear about is Gout. What is gout exactly, what are the symptoms and what can you do to avoid this painful condition?
First lets understand gout and what it is. Gout is actually a form of inflammatory arthritis which develops when people have high levels of uric acid in the blood. Acute gout, or a gout attack, happens when something causes uric acid levels to spike or jostles the crystals that have formed in a joint, triggering the attack. The resulting inflammation and pain usually strike at night and intensify over the next eight to 12 hours. The symptoms ease after a few days and likely go away in a week to 10 days. Some people never experience a second attack, but an estimated 60% of people who have a gout attack will have a second one within a year. Overall, 84% may have another attack within three years.
What are the symptoms of gout?
The acid can form needle-like crystals in a joint and cause sudden, severe episodes of pain, tenderness, redness, warmth and swelling. There is several stages of gout and each should be taken seriously.
The period prior to the first gout attack. There are no symptoms, but blood uric acid levels are high and crystals are forming in the joint.
The time between attacks. Although there’s no pain, the gout isn’t gone. Low-level inflammation may be damaging joints. This is the time to begin managing gout – via lifestyle changes and medication – to prevent future attacks or chronic gout.
Develops in people with gout whose uric acid levels remain high over a number of years. Attacks become more frequent and the pain may not go away as it used to. Joint damage may occur, which can lead to a loss of mobility. With proper management and treatment, this stage is preventable.
What causes gout and who is affected?
Gout occurs in about 4% of American adults – about 6 million men and 2 million women. Gout is more common in men than women until around age 60. Experts believe natural estrogen protects women up to that point. If family members have gout, you’re more likely to develop it. There are several choices that you make that could affect or increase your chance at developing gout. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease may raise your risk. Also diuretic medications or “water pills” taken for high blood pressure can raise uric acid levels; so can some drugs that suppress the immune system taken by rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis patients, as well as transplant recipients.
Are you eating a healthy balanced diet? Eating red meat and shellfish increases your risk. For most people, more than two liquor drinks or two beers a day can increase the risk of gout. The fructose in sweet sodas has recently been shown to increase gout risk. Obese people are at a higher risk for gout, and they tend to develop it at a younger age than people of normal weight. Those who have undergone gastric bypass surgery have an increased risk as well.