Gout is a form or arthritis that can be extremely painful because of the interaction between joints and uric acid crystals in the blood. An excess of uric acid in the blood causes the substance to build up in the joints. The uric acid crystals induce body defenses that cause swelling and pain from inflammation.
How Do You Get Gout and Who Is At The Highest Risk?
First to be mentioned are those who have a genetic predisposition for gout. Having a history of family members that suffered with the illness gives pretty good odds that generations of sufferers will emerge.
Also, gout is a metabolic disease. It is a disease that occurs in people whose kidneys do not eliminate uric acid properly. The uric acid builds up in the blood, consequently finding its way to the joints in crystallized form.
That said, because gout is specifically due to an elevation of uric acid, there are levels and conditions for just about anybody wanting to control it. There are numerous things that can elevate your uric acid including foods you eat.
Drinking too much alcohol, particularly beer, is a serious risk factor.
Seriously contributing to the onset of gout are major diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and others. Having a comprehensive plan to keep these under control contributes to your long, healthy life including a reduction in gout episodes.
How is Gout Diagnosed?
The standard for diagnosing gout is to remove fluid from the joints for labratory testing. The usual symptoms for gout combined with high levels of uric acid will generally result in a diagnosis of and treatment for the disease.
Symptoms include a painful gut, swelling, redness, heat and pain in the joints, particularly focusing on the big toe as a primary point of distress.
While the big toe is often the initial focus, excruciating pain can develop in the elbows, and knee pain from gout can be debilitating.
However, gout can present in any joint including feet, ankles, knees, elbows, shoulders and hands. Gout symptoms presenting in the hands can make day to day normal functions very challenging and painful.
Medical Treatment Options For Gout
Since it is possible to have one episode of gout flair up, often the first medical treatment is simply prescribed NSAIDs for the reduction of inflammation and pain. Then a wait and see procedure to find out if the symptoms return.
If gout attacks continue to occur, then more aggressive treatment to reduce uric acid in the blood is prescribed. There are medicines that can lower uric acid in the blood, but often take up to a year to see gout attacks lowered with the medications alone.
There are numerous wll known medications such as Allopurinol and Indocin for gout occurrences and inflammation induced pain. Some of these, with extended use, reduce uric acid in blood.
Others, like Prednisone, are immunosuppressants that prevent the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation.
They can all have serious side effects including seriously weakening your immune system. If your condition can be controlled with dietary and other lifestyle changes, that is a best first resort.
One word of caution if you are a chronic gout sufferer on medication to reduce the occurrences. When you get to feeling better and the attacks lessen, that is not a time to get off your medicine.
Gout can remind you very quickly that it is still present. Talk to your doctor before reducing or ceasing any gout medication that reduces blood uric acid.
What about when medical treatment does not relieve my gout attacks or symptoms like I had hoped?
See the next article on natural remedies for Gout reduction.
For anyone with chronically occurring gout, lifestyle changes are extremely important. In fact, just like with most conditions that affect the joints and mobility, the disease is often fought more successfully with adjustments to food, drink and exercise than by medication and endless medical procedures.