Are you having sudden and severe attacks of pain and irritation in your leg joints? Do they become so tender and painful that any kind of weight on them becomes unbearable? Then this might be an indication of gout. So what is this gout? What causes it? What are the symptoms? Does any treatment exist? What are the methods and food to avoid this condition? In this article I have tried to cover the main points related to the above stated topics. However this article is written to provide just a basic idea, and it should not be used for treatment in emergencies. Please contact your physician before starting any medication or treatment.
Please read on to find out more about the condition.
What is gout?
Gout is a form of arthritis. The main points related to this disease are :-
- It can affect anyone.
- Pain attacks are sudden and sharp.
- Joints redden and swell up.
- The big toe in the foot is the most common location.
- Gives a burning sensation to your affected toe
- The joint pains a lot when even a slight weight like bedcover is applied
- Symptoms are non persistent. They may come and go without any sign.
What are the Symptoms?
As said before, symptoms do not persist. They keep coming and going, often during the night. The most common symptoms are :-
- Gout affects the whole toe, but the pain can occur in any joint of the toe.
- Other common affected joints are wrist, ankle, knees, elbows and so on.
- Pain is most severe after first few hours of start.
- Even after pain subsides, discomfort in joint lasts for quite a time period.
- Pains can also affect other joints often in a long period of time.
- Affected joints become red, swollen, and tender with a burning sensation.
- Moving affected joints in normal directions become more difficult with time.
What are the causes of gout?
The chemical which causes gout is uric acid. It happens in the following manner :-
- Under normal conditions uric acid dissolves in blood or passes through urine.
- But because of kidney failure or other reasons, uric acid cannot leave the body.
- Then it forms urate crystals. These crystals form long thin needle like structures in the joints.
- These structures cause burning and irritation in joints. This condition is know as gout.
Other general causes of gout are :-
- You are also under potential risk of gout if your family members have it.
- Gout is more common in young men than women. However with age the chances become equal for both genders.
- Surgery or trauma experienced recently also increases the chances.
Uric acid deposition in body
Normally uric acid is excreted from our body. But the acid starts accumulating in our body under the following conditions :-
- Eating diets rich in uric acid. I have discussed this topic in detail below.
- When you are obese, your body produces uric acid more than normal. Also your kidneys find it difficult to extract the acid.
- Medical conditions like heart or kidney problems, blood pressure, diabetes, etc. decreases body efficiency for uric acid excretion.
- Certain medicines like anti depressants, aspirins, and medicines for hypertension increases urea content.
Food that causes gout
The urea content in our body is increased by consuming food containing purine. Foods with high content of purine are :-
- all types of alcoholic beverages,
- seafood like fish, sardines, trouts, codfish and so on.
- Meat of certain creatures like turkey or bacon.
- Organs like liver.
Foods with average content of purine are :-
- normal meat like chicken, duck, pork, ham, beef
- sea shellfishes like lobster, crabs and oysters.
What are the possible complications?
Gout can give rise to the following serious cases :-
- In most cases the symptoms do not surface again. But in other cases gout can keep occurring frequently. This is harmful and needs to be treated promptly because gout causes erosion of the joint until it is completely destroyed.
- Frequent gout attacks causes the urate crystals to be deposited in the joints of the affected areas. They form needle like structures called tophi. They are not harmful, but can cause tenderness and pain in gout attacks.
- When the kidneys do not function properly, the uric acid is accumulated in our kidney. Also the urate crystals can deposit at the urinary tract. These depositions develop into hard masses, more popularly known as kidney stones. They have to removed through medications or by surgery.
How do doctors diagnose the condition?
Doctors perform the following tests to determine the condition:-
- Fluid sample tests from joint to test for presence of urate crystals
- Blood test to measure level of uric acid and creatinine
- X rays help to rule out other causes
- Ultrasound and CT scan to detect presence of urate crystals in joint
How to prevent this disease?
If you are already experiencing gout attacks, then experts advice to control intake of purine containing food. When the attacks are frequent, then consume normal purine containing food occasionally and stop intake of purine rich food. Then as the attacks become less frequent, you can start normal consumption of average purine content food, while trying out purine rich food sometimes. In this way you can enjoy your favorite food while decreasing the attacks at the same time.
Other ways in which can reduce the pain attacks are :-
- Drink lots of water daily. At the same time try to reduce the intake of beverages, especially those with high content of fructose or corn syrup.
- Beer increases the chances of gout. So either stop alcohol consumption or consult your doctor to know how much alcohol is safe for you.
- Protein is no doubt important for our body, and meat is the best source for it. But meat also increases the risk for gout because they are rich in purine. So try to avoid the meat products when pain attacks are frequent. Instead consume milk based products for protein supply. They pose a lesser threat.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. If you are obese then try to reduce your weight. However try to avoid fasting or methods for rapid weight loss.
Thus we see that gout attacks can be avoided or the pain can be lessened by following a few simple and easy rules and avoiding the foods which cause it. Also do not leave the condition untreated. I hope the article has provided a solution or insight into the matter. Please let me know what you think in the comment section.