The person with gout is awakened in the middle of the night by a sudden pain in the affected articulation. The joint is hot, red, swollen and extremely painful. The attack normally stops after a few days. The skin itches and peels. After an attack, it is likely that a new attack will occur months or years later. You can see online many photos of gout in hands and find the causes.
If the blood level of uric acid remains high, it may continue to be deposited in the joints (without causing symptoms) and gradually deform them: this is chronic gout, also called gouty arthritis.
Acute gout is a very painful condition that affects only one joint. Chronic gout is repetitive episodes of pain and inflammation, where more than one joint may be affected.
Many people with gout suffer recurrent episodes of joint swelling and inflammation. Most people can control gout episodes with medication and by avoiding foods that trigger gout episodes. Gout left untreated for several years can lead to arthritis (joint damage), lumps under the skin and possibly kidney disease.
If you have one of those symptoms, think you might have gout:
- One or a few joints are affected.
- The pain starts suddenly, often at night. The pain is intense and can be described as throbbing, squeezing or excruciating.
- The joint is warm and red in colour. It regularly appears very tender and swollen (the sensation of pain can be felt by simply putting a sheet or cushion over it).
- Fever may develop.
- The outbreak may disappear after a few days, but may return intermittently. Additional outbreaks are of longer duration.
After the first gout flare-up, some patients with gout will not have any symptoms. However, some people may have another flare-up within the next 6 to 12 months. Some sufferers may develop chronic gout. This type of gout can lead to joint damage and loss of movement in the joints. People with this chronic gout will have joint pain and other symptoms most of the time.
If you are not sure, you can take several medical tests to diagnose gout. Some of them are:
- Synovial fluid analysis
- Uric acid in the blood
- X-ray of the joint
- Synovial biopsy
- Uric acid in urine
It is important to remember that a blood uric acid level above 7 mg/dl (milligrams per decilitre) is high. However, not everyone with a high uric acid level has gout.