Gout: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
This is one of the main problem relating to the joints. It is a common type of arthritis actually.
Some of its leading effects are severe pain, swelling, redness and tenderness in the joints.
The one thing which is significant to its occurrence is that it can happen suddenly.
You can wake up at night feeling like your toe is burning up.
To learn more about gout and its symptoms, causes and ways to treat it, continue reading this blog post:
What is Gout?
So what happens to your joints after the attack?
You will get a feeling of hot sensation and you feel like your joints are completely swollen and tender.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about 8.3 million Americans were affected by gout from 2007 to 2008.
These kinds of attacks happen suddenly. Unfortunately they keep on coming back.
Let’s now talk about the symptoms of gout:
Symptoms of Gout
The signs happen suddenly and usually occur at night. These include:
- Extreme pain in joints: The main affected area is the joint in the big toe. However it happens in many of the other joints too. This includes in your ankles, elbows and fingers.
The pain is on a high level in the first few hours but it starts to subside after that.
- High discomfort: Severe pain is during the first few days but it gets better after. The extreme pain reduces eventually but there is discomfort for a few weeks after. The pain continues to grow amongst all the joints.
- Inflammation: In this the affected joints become swollen and tender. There is always redness too.
- Limited movement- This is when the condition is significantly progressing and your joints are highly effective, making it impossible for you move your joints properly. This condition is among in both men and women but it is more common in women after menopause.
One of the major reasons why you have gout is because of high uric acid in your body. Uric acid can be high in the body due to many reasons. These include:
- Diet- What you consume matters. If you have a diet that is rich in meat and seafood as well as sweetened drinks, then you are most likely to get gout. Alcohol also increases the risk of gout.
- Obesity- This is another leading factor. Being overweight produces more uric acid. The kidneys also have a harder time to remove this excess of uric acid.
- Medical conditions-Some conditions can cause you to have this condition. If you suffer from high blood pressure and chronic problems like diabetes, metabolic issues or kidney concerns, you will most likely get this condition.
- Family history- If some of your family members have gout, you are likely to get it too.
Age-It is more likely to develop in men between the ages of 30-50. Whereas in women it can occur when they have hit menopause.
- Gender- It is more common in men as they have lower uric acid levels than women. Females get higher uric acid levels when they hit menopause.
- Surgery- If you recently had a surgery or a trauma, there are higher chances of you developing this condition.
Now let’s talk about the diagnosis procedure:
Tests and diagnosis
When it comes to setting a proper diagnosis of this ailment, it isn’t always very clear.
This is because Gout’s symptoms are actually similar to other conditions too.
The common test carried is the joint fluid test. This is when fluid is taken from joints with a needle.
It is then looked to see if any urate crystals are present or no.
Also joint infections have almost the same symptoms like gout. Your doctor will conduct a joint fluid test to see if there is a bacterial cause.
There is testing on the fluid for several days to determine the underlying cause.
Another test which is done is to measure uric acid levels. However those with high uric acid don’t always have gout.
Your medical advisor will look into urate crystals in the joints with the use of an ultrasound.
Also an X-ray does not detect gout but it is used to determine if any other causes are the underlying reason for the condition.
Prevention of Gout
There are several methods doctors suggest which help you to fight any further gout attacks.
These are actually dietary guidelines.
Let’s look into some of the most common ones you can adapt during your symptom-free days:
- Hydration is key-it is important that you take in a lot of water. Sweetened beverages are harmful as they contain a lot of high-fructose corn syrup.
- Limit your alcohol intake- alcohol in high consumption can be harmful to you. According to latest data analysis, men who consume large quantities of alcohol have a higher setting of gout symptoms than women.
- Indulge in more protein and low-fat dairy -consume food items which are good and healthy protein sources for you. This also means to cook with minimum amount of oil and if you are to use it, make use of olive oil instead of canola
- Set portion control on meat and poultry- having small portions of meat is fine. However you should see the type you are eating and what kind of problems it is causing you.
- Manage your body weight- you should aim to keep your weight in check. Being in optimal weight helps to keep your uric acid levels in control. However if you want to lose weight, don’t adapt rapid weight loss regimes, and instead do so in a healthy way by eating right and exercising.
One of the best ways in which you can combat the onset of gout is by adapting a healthy diet.
A balanced diet helps to control the symptoms.
You should aim to decrease the intake of food which is high in purines.
This will help to keep your uric acid levels in control.
Keep a look out for these high-purines food items:
- beef kidneys
- dried beans and peas
- game meats
There are certain complications you are likely to develop with gout. These include:
Recurrent-while gout symptoms don’t always recur, in certain cases you will be experiencing gout quite a few times in a year. However medication is helpful. It prevents from gout attacks to happen again and again. Gout should be treated on time. If it isn’t, it can cause problems like erosion of the joint.
Advanced gout-if you leave gout untreated, it leads to the deposit of urate crystals. When these form under the skin, it is called tophi. Tophi develops in several parts of the body including in your fingers, hands, feets and elbows. This is not painful. But it leads to swollen and tender joints.
Kidney stones-this is the most common time of complication which is also well-known. This is when urate crystals collect in the urinary tract of people who have gout. It causes kidney stones. You can take on medications so to reduce the onset of kidney stones.
Treatment for gout usually involves medications. What medications you and your doctor choose will be based on your current health and your own preferences.
As we have discussed already, home remedies help in natural ways to reduce the build-up of uric acid in the body. Some of the tactics are avoiding sugar, losing weight, balancing insulin, reducing stress and finally to check on the proper intake of your medications.
Gout medications can be used to treat acute attacks and prevent future attacks.
Medications can also reduce your risk of complications from gout, such as the development of tophi from urate crystal deposits.
Medications to Treat Gout Attacks
There are a few drugs which are useful to treat acute attacks as well as prevent future attacks. These include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – Medicines include ibuprofen and naproxen sodium
- Sometimes your doctor will also consider prescribing higher doses to stop acute attacks. These can be followed by lower dose later on.
- Colchicin-sometimes you will suffer from extreme gout pain and at this time, pain relievers are effective. This includes medication like colcrys and mitigare. However you can suffer from side effects like nausea, diarrhea and constant vomiting.
- Corticosteroids- this type of medication helps to combat inflammation and pain. It can be taken into 2 forms – either in pill form or injections. Its common side effects are mood changes and fluctuating bloos pressure.
Medications that Prevent Gout Complications
If you suffer from gout for several years and have painful attacks every now and then, there are certain medications which help to reduce gout complications.
There are also certain medications who can take which helps to lower the uric acid levels in the body which trigger from certain complications.
Some of the most common options you can use:
Medications that block uric acid production-like Aloprim, Lopurin, Zyloprim and Uloric.
Medication that improves uric acid removal– like Probalan and Zurampic.
Joint pain is something which is common. However it comes with certain complications and painful symptoms which should be managed in time.
If they are not managed soon, a person can develop a long-list of complications.
We hope this blog post was helpful in identifying the reasons, symptoms and complications with this health condition.
We also signified the different treatments you can opt for, depending on your condition. If you feel there are still confusions as to whether you have gout or not, you are more than welcome to speak to our health experts at Al-Qudrah Medical Center to get more insights.