Gout is an excruciatingly painful form of inflammatory, intermittent arthritis caused by excess uric acid buildup in the body. Let’s take a look at the answers to common questions about gout:
How Common is Gout?
Approximately 1 in 200 adults are afflicted by gout. Approximately 9 out of 10 gout sufferers are adult males.
How does gout work?
Uric acid spikes (hyperuricemia) sometimes cause acidic crystals to form in the affected joint. The majority of people with hyperuricemia don’t develop gout – only in cases where the excess uric acid causes crystals to form. These uric acid crystal deposits are called tophi, and make the skin around the joint look lumpy.
What Joints are Affected?
Gout attacks usually originate in the base joint of the big toe, but can occur in other joints such as the ankles, foot arches, wrists or knees (usually occurring one at a time).
What Causes Gout?
Uric acid is derived from the body’s absorption of purines (substances found within bodily tissues and in many foods we eat). Therefor, ingesting foods high in purines may bring on an attack of gout. Some foods for gout sufferers to avoid include: high-fructose drinks such as soda, too much alcohol and purine rich foods. Sufferers should also be careful not to injure the toe joints.
What are the Symptoms of Gout?
The most common symptoms are redness, swelling, agonising pain, a lumpy appearance, warmth, significant stiffness, inability to bear weight. Gout pain is known to be excruciating.
How Frequently do Gout Attacks Occur?
Gout affects different sufferers differently, attacks may occur months or years apart, or much more frequently. Treatment depends on the frequency and severity of attacks. Gout attacks usually occur for 3-11 days, but some may be longer. While some people don’t experience a subsequent attack, up to 60% of sufferers will have another attack within a year.
What Are the Risk Factors?
Gout risk factors include: male gender, overweight or obese, consuming too much alcohol, consuming too many purine-rich foods, taking certain medications or supplements such as diuretics or niacin, and certain other health conditions such as high blood pressure or other forms of arthritis.
How is Gout Treated?
Some sufferers who sustain elevated uric acid have a chronic form of the disease and require daily medication to prevent frequent attacks. Gout treatment varies per patient, but often includes anti-inflammatories to control swelling, corticosteroids as well as colchicine (a plant-based medication that has been used to control gout for hundreds of years) or, in chronic cases, a daily uric acid reducing medication such as allopurinol.
What are Some Tips for Gout Sufferers?
Tips for those suffering an attack include: lower your stress (it aggravates the condition), rest, modify your diet to include anti inflammatory, low purine foods, apply ice to the area if possible and stay well hydrated (this can help lower uric acid). Those who are prone to gout should consider adding tart cherries to their daily diet, as their medicinal properties for gout have been time (and research) tested.
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