What is Gout?

Written by: Dr. Ali Khatau

Posted at: 2022-04-15 14:02:23

What Is Gout? Gout is a kind of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints. Uric acid is a breakdown product of purines that are part of many foods we eat including fish and beef. An abnormality in handling uric acid and crystallization of these compounds in joints can cause attacks of painful arthritis & kidney stones. Symptoms Acute gout attacks are characterized by a rapid onset of pain in the affected joint followed by warmth, swelling, reddish discoloration, and marked tenderness. These painful attacks usually subside in hours to days, with or without medication. Who's Affected by Gout? The chances of having gout rises with age, with a peak age of 75. In women, gout attacks usually occur after menopause. If your parents have gout, then you have a 20% chance of developing it. Risk Factors Obesity, excessive weight gain, especially in youth, moderate to heavy alcohol intake, high blood pressure, diabetes, and abnormal kidney function are among the risk factors for developing gout. Common sites The small joint at the base of the big toe is the most common site for an attack. Other joints that can be affected include the ankles, knees, wrists, fingers, and elbows.Over time, they can harm joints, tendons, and other tissues. Other common sites are the fingers, elbows and knees. Diagnosing Gout Gout is considered when a patient reports a history of repeated attacks of painful arthritis, especially at the base of the toes or in the ankles and knees. The most reliable test for gout is detecting uric acid crystals in the joint fluid obtained by joint aspiration. Your doctor may also do a blood test to measure the amount of uric acid in your blood. How Are Gout Attacks Prevented? Maintaining adequate fluid intake helps prevent acute gout attacks. Alcohol can also affect uric acid metabolism and cause hyperuricemia. 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 which include shellfish and organ meats, such as liver, brains, and kidneys should be avoided. Weight reduction can be helpful in lowering the risk of recurrent attacks of gout. Treating Gout Certain medications reduce the pain and inflammation of gout attacks, such as anti-inflammatory drugs. Other medications decrease the level of uric acid in the blood and prevent the deposit of uric acid in joints but should only be used on prescription by a doctor.

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