What Is Gout?
Gout is a kind of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints. Uric acid is the last outcome product of purines that are part of many foods we eat. An inability to manage levels of uric acid and crystallization of these compounds in joints can cause attacks of painful arthritis, kidney stones, and blockage of the kidney filtering tubules with uric acid crystals, leading to kidney failure. Gout has the unique significance of being one of the most frequently recorded medical illnesses throughout history.
Signs and symptoms of gout
Any joint can be affected by gout, but it usually affects joints towards the ends of the limbs, such as the toes, ankles, knees and fingers.
Signs and symptoms of gout include:
severe pain in one or more joints
- the joint feeling hot and very tender
- swelling in and around the affected joint
- red, shiny skin over the affected joint
Symptoms develop rapidly over a few hours and typically last three to 10 days. After this time the pain should pass and the joint should return to normal.
What causes gout?
Gout is caused by a build-up of a substance called uric acid in the blood.
If you produce too much uric acid or your kidneys don’t filter enough out, it can build up and cause tiny sharp crystals to form in and around joints. These crystals can cause the joint to become inflamed (red and swollen) and painful.
Things that may increase your chances of getting gout include:
- obesity, high blood pressure and/or diabetes
- having a close relative with gout
- kidney problems
- eating foods that cause a build-up of uric acid
- drinking too much beer or spirits
The Big Toe
The joint at the base of the big toe is the most common site of an acute gout attack. These attacks can recur unless gout is treated. See your doctor even if the pain from gout is gone. Over time, they can harm joints, tendons, and other tissues.
How to Prevent Gout Attacks ?
Maintaining adequate fluid intake helps prevent acute gout attacks and decreases the risk of kidney stone formation in people with gout. Alcohol is known to have diuretic effects that can contribute to dehydration and precipitate acute gout attacks. Alcohol can also affect uric acid metabolism and cause hyperuricemia. It causes gout by slowing down the excretion of uric acid from the kidneys as well as by causing dehydration, which precipitates the crystals in the joints.
More Prevention Techniques
Dietary changes can help reduce uric acid levels in the blood. Since purine chemicals are converted by the body into uric acid, purine-rich foods should be avoided. Foods rich in purines include shellfish and organ meats, such as liver, brains, and kidneys. Researchers have reported that meat or seafood consumption increases the risk of gout attacks, while dairy consumption seemed to reduce this risk. Weight reduction can be helpful in lowering the risk of recurrent attacks of gout.
Pseudogout is a similar condition to gout, but usually affects the knee joint first. It’s a form of arthritis that causes pain, stiffness, tenderness, redness, warmth and swelling in one or more of your joints – commonly the knee or wrist.