What is Gout: Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention

Gout is a kind of disease or a form of inflammatory arthritis caused by uric acid crystals in the joints.

What is gout?

If you or someone you know has high levels of uric acid in the blood and is most likely suffering from arthritis, then we could possibly be talking about gout here.

Gout is a kind of disease or a form of inflammatory arthritis caused by uric acid crystals in the joints. Common symptoms of these needle-like crystals could cause an individual to suffer from severe pain, redness and warmth, tenderness, and swelling.

Stages of Gout

There are different stages of gout; Asymptomatic hyperuricemia, Acute, Interval, and Chronic.

  1. Asymptomatic Hyperuricemia is prior to the first attack of gout. Usually, in this period, there are no signs of gout or symptoms involved. But the individual could notice the rising of blood uric acid. This is also the stage where crystals are starting to form in the joint.
  2. Acute gout is also known as gout attack. This period is the most common to the majority since triggers such as a night of drinking is responsible for a gout attack. Having said, uric acid levels of a person will increase and will most likely trigger the crystals that have formed in the joint. Due to triggers, the inflammation and pain will most probably take place at night and symptoms will last till the next 8 to 12 hours.
  3. Interval gout is the period between attacks. An individual won’t feel any amount of pain but low-level inflammation could still cause damage to the joints. Interval gout is the phase where gout is best to be treated. In order to avoid future or possible episodes of the next attack, medications, and changes in lifestyle will be needed during this period.

Chronic gout is due to the consistently high levels of uric acid in the blood for years already. This is where gout attacks are said to be recurring. Inflammation and pain will also be present which could cause severe damages to the joint. As a result, the mobility of an individual could also be affected. As bad as it may sound, chronic gout is still preventable if proper treatment and medication will be given.

Who is most likely to be affected by gout?

According to research, men are more prone to experiencing gout than women. Gout attacks are also prone to aging individuals most especially when a person reaches the age of 75. Women are also most likely to experience gout after the menopausal stage. But if your parents have had episodes of gout attacks, then there is a 20% chance that you can also experience a gout attack.

What are the risk factors of gout?

There are several risk factors for someone to experience gouts such as genes, weight issues, medications, lifestyle, gender and age, and even surgeries.

Genes is a given factor for gout already. As mentioned above, it is possible for an individual to have gout issues if by chance the parents had previous gout attacks too.

Weight issues such as obesity may also be another factor for gout. Obese people have higher risks of catching gout even at an early age. Diet issues may also be another culprit. According to study, people who eat a large amount of red meat and shellfish are prone to gout.

People who are fond of taking diuretic drugs or known as “water pills” are prone to gout attacks. This is because these kinds of medications are known to raise uric acid levels of a person.

Your kind of lifestyle could also make you vulnerable to gout attacks. Most especially if you’re not doing a healthy diet or you are someone who drinks a lot. Liquors are known to raise uric acid which is a number one trigger for gout.

Medical experts believe that women are not that prone to gout attacks because of their estrogen levels. Unlike men, they are said to experience attacks more than women until the age of 60.

Individuals who undergone surgeries such as a gastric bypass surgery have higher risks of gout.

How do you diagnose gout?

A medical expert would ask the patient about the repeated history of gout attacks. Most especially if the patient suffers painful arthritis in the ankles, knees, and the base of the toes.

One way of diagnosing gout reliably is to have the uric acid crystals in the joint measured. A blood test may also be done by the doctor to measure uric acid the blood.

How is gout prevented?

In order to prevent gout attacks from taking place, one is advised to up his/her water intake. Some studies claim that enough water intake could help prevent acute gout attacks. At the same time, drinking water regularly would also lessen the formation of kidney stone on individuals who have gout.

It is also necessary for an individual to live a healthy lifestyle since gout attacks could take place due to unhealthy changes in lifestyle. By maintaining a clean or healthy diet and by eating the right kind of foods, one may lessen risks of gout attacks.

Upon having one’s self-checked, medications may also be advised by the doctor. There are anti-inflammatory drugs that can help lessen inflammation in the affected areas where gout takes place. These drugs may also help lessen the pain. Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen could help. However, it would be best to consult a doctor before self-medication.

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