Gout is a type of arthritis in which small crystals form inside and around the joints. It causes sudden attacks of severe pain and swelling. An excess of uric acid in the blood brings on gout. Uric acid comes from two places — produced by the body and from the diet. Any extra uric acid usually filters through the kidneys and gets passed in urine. If the body produces too much uric acid or fails to excrete it in the urine, crystals of monosodium urate form in the joints and tendons. These crystals cause intense inflammation leading to pain swelling and redness. Most of the cases, gout happens in big toes and usually, it affects only one joint at a time. One must remember that gout need to be treated and if not, you might end up suffering all the time! The human body makes uric acid during the breakdown of chemicals called purines found in certain food and drinks. This normal by product goes through the kidneys and exits the body when you pee. Sometimes, the body produces too much uric acid and the kidneys did not functioning very well. When the body has high levels of uric acid, or hyperuricemia, uric acid crystals can concentrate in the joints. However, many people with higher uric acid levels never get gout. Gout attack are very painful and can happen quite suddenly. In UK, study found that between one and two in every 100 people are affected by gout. Gout is common in men than women and it can be extremely painful and debilitating. There are few symptoms that cause gout such as: –
- Sudden and severe pain, usually in the middle of the night or early morning
- Tenderness; the joint can also be warm to the touch and look red or purple
- Severe pain in one or more joints
- The joint feeling hot and very tender
- Swelling in and around the affected joint
- Red, shiny skin over the affected joint
Symptoms develop rapidly over a few hours and typically last three to 10 days. After this time the pain should pass and the joint should return to normal. Gout can happen without warning and it can attack in the middle of the night. Attacks of gout can be unexpected and excruciatingly painful. With prompt treatment, the pain and inflammation usually disappear after a few days, but they may recur at any time. It is advisable for people who suffer from gout to avoid foods and drinks that contained high purine levels such as: –
- Red meat and organ meats (liver, for example)
- Drinks and foods high in fructose (fruit sugar)
- Protein from animal sources. All protein from animal flesh can potentially lead to elevated uric acid levels
Purines are also found in certain foods, including red meat and organ meats, such as liver. Purine-rich seafood includes anchovies, sardines, mussels, scallops, trout and tuna. Alcoholic beverages, especially beer, and drinks sweetened with fruit sugar (fructose) promote higher levels of uric acid.
How to overcome gout?
You can make certain lifestyle changes to help prevent gout by: –
- Drink plenty of water to help your kidneys function better and avoid dehydration
- Exercise regularly to stay at a healthy weight. Extra weight increases uric acid in your body and puts more stress on joints.
- Limit intake of alcohol, fats, and foods that are more likely to increase uric acid level in the body — meat, sardines, bacon, mussels, and yeast.
People are more likely to develop gout if you have high levels of uric acid in your body. There are factors that increase the uric acid level in your body include:
- Medical conditions
- Family history of gout
- Age and sex
- Recent surgery or trauma