What to know about Gout?
Gout was first identified by the Egyptians over 4,000 years ago. Hippocrates, the Greek physician and “father of medicine,” wrote about it. Hippocrates also noted the link between gout and alcohol consumption and high-quality foods and drinks. Gout is now understood to be a common condition. Once considered a disease of the wealthy, it was called the “disease for kings.” Gout can be caused by food and drink, but there are other risk factors such as genes.
Gout is one of the most common forms of arthritis. According to the American College of Rheumatology it affects as many as 3 million Americans. Gout can be caused by high blood uric acid levels. Uric acid is a byproduct of the body’s breaking down of substances called purines. Purines can be found in the body naturally and in high amounts in certain foods. The purines are broken down into uric acid, which is then carried through the bloodstream to your kidneys. Your urine then flushes out the body. Some people have high levels of urinary acid.
This is known as hyperuricemia. It may be due to excess purines in the body or a diet high in purines. It is more often due to the inability of the kidneys to remove enough uric acids from the blood. Sometimes it can be a combination of both. Hyperuricemia can also be caused by uric acid from the blood.
These crystals can form into sharp, needle-like crystals in the joints and cause inflammation. This is called gout. Gout often follows a pattern of “attacks” that are followed by periods of no or few symptoms. Gout attacks are often sudden and often occur at night. They cause intense pain and inflammation in the joint or joints. The pain will usually last 5-10 days before subsiding. You may not experience another attack for several decades if you don’t get treatment.
Gout attacks that are repeated will become more frequent and last longer after several episodes. Gout attacks are most common in the big toe joint. However, other joints, such as the ankle, knee, elbow, foot, and hands, can also be affected. Gout can affect more than just the joints. Crystals can build up in the urinary tract, and kidney stones can occur.
Gout can be diagnosed with high accuracy by using a needle to collect fluid from affected joints and then examine the fluid under a microscope for crystals of uric acid. If the test is not available, the doctor will look at the symptoms, such as hyperuricemia (blood tests can confirm this) or sudden and intense pain in the big toe joint. Gout can cause a lump of uric acids called a tophus. This lump is often associated with advanced gout.
Gout is more common among men between 40-60 years old, but it will become more common in women after menopause. Gout attacks can be triggered by a rise in blood uric acid. Purines are a major cause. Purines are found in seafood like anchovies, sardines, herring, and herring. Red meats and organ meats such as liver, kidney, sweetbread, and red meats are also high in purines.
Did You Know?
All alcohol causes the kidneys not to produce as much uric acids, which raises blood uric levels. However, beer, which also has this effect, is high in purines. Gout and other attacks can be influenced by your diet. People who eat high levels of purines don’t get gout. Others can eat these foods but still get gout. High blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and high cholesterol all increase the risk of developing gout. However, it is not clear why. Rheumatoid and other forms of arthritis do not have the same effect.
Gout patients who are suffering from gout should seek treatment to lower blood uric acids levels. As uric levels drop, the uric crystals in the joints and tophi in the body are reabsorbed. This can make symptoms of gout less severe or disappear completely. Gout can be a serious problem in the joints if it is not treated. After a few episodes of intermittent attacks, gout can become a chronic condition, causing pain and damage to the joint structure. Gout can also cause kidney damage.