Gout: What you Need to Know

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Gout affects 1-2% of the Western population at some point in their lives. Gout is a highly painful form of arthritis which develops when too much uric acid is present in the body. Learn the causes and symptoms to determine if you or someone you love may be suffering from undiagnosed gout:

Gout Symptoms

When there are high levels of uric acid in the body, it crystallizes and deposits itself on the joints, tendons, and soft tissue. This causes painful flare-ups and swelling which are usually concentrated in the big toes, feet, ankles, knees, wrists, and elbows. Gout is characterized by extreme joint pain that lasts from a few days to a few weeks, with the pain being the most intense during the first 12-24 hours. In addition to the pain and swelling, the affected site can also become red and tender.

Causes of Gout

Uric acid is a natural waste product produced when the body breaks down purines. Purines are naturally-occurring substances found in foods such as artichokes, asparagus, mushrooms, mackerel, peas, and organ meats like liver or kidney. Uric acid is usually filtered through the kidneys and excreted via urination. However, if the body has an abnormally high amount of uric acid or the kidneys are failing to filter it, the excess acid will eventually form urate crystals in the joints, tendons, and soft tissue.

Diet

Dietary causes result in 12% of gout diagnoses. Consuming alcohol, fructose-sweetened drinks, organ meats, and seafood put you at high risk for developing gout. Vegetables containing high levels of purines were once thought to contribute to gout, but this was recently disproven. Studies have shown that exercise in addition to consuming coffee, vitamin C, and dairy can substantially decrease your risk for gout. This may be due to a decreased risk of insulin resistance, which is another major risk factor for gout.

Genetics

Many gout sufferers have been shown to possess mutations in three of their genes. Therefore, heredity is a high risk factor, especially in families with a history of related diseases such as diabetes and kidney disorders.

Poor Health

There are many health issues that can put you at high risk for developing gout. One of most significant correlations is obesity. In addition, those suffering from kidney failure, insulin resistance, hypertension, lead poisoning, and anemia are also at risk.

Treatment Options

Gout patients require a medication which lowers the amount of uric acid in their bloodstream. The medication will greatly improve the incidence and severity of inflammation and flare-ups. If left untreated, gout can become chronic and even lead to physical deformity. You may be prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to treat the pain. For less severe cases, you may be able to find relief with over-the-counter ibuprofen and naproxen. Colchicine and steroids have also been proven to be highly effective in treating the pain and inflammation associated with gout.

If you suspect that you or a loved one may be suffering from gout, schedule a consultation with an esteemed podiatrist at Superior Foot & Ankle Care Center today.