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Gout-symptoms, causes, and management

Gout-symptoms, causes, and management

Gout is the most common type of arthritis causing pain, swelling and stiffness of the joints. The big toe is usually the first joint to be affected. The disease affects around 275 people out of 100000 people, with men at a higher risk to develop this disease. If not treated gout attacks can become very frequent and painful. It can be successfully treated by medication thus reducing the chances of further progression of the disease, and the pain can be managed by medicine.

Increased uric acid levels do not mean that the person is suffering from gout. It is caused when the body’s immune system attacks the uric acid crystal on the joints. Some people have a high uric acid level but there is no crystallization of uric acid.

Gout can be defined as a condition where the body is not able to assimilate purine, which further breaks down to form uric acid. When the uric acid concentration increases it forms needle-like crystal which starts to deposit around the joints causing the immune system to react which leads to inflammation of the joints.

Types of gout:
  1. Asymptomatic hyperuricemia
  2. Acute Gout
  3. Intercritical Gout
  4. Chronic Gout

Symptoms:

The symptoms have a sudden onset, usually at night, which includes:

  • Intense joint pain, usually the big toe joints. Other commonly affected joints are ankles, knee, elbow, wrist, and fingers.
  • After the pain subsides usually after 4-12 hours there is still some discomfort in the joints.
  • Signs of inflammation are quite prominent at the affected joints.
  • As gout progresses, the joints lose their flexibility thus the range of movement of the joints is reduced.
  • Pain is excruciating, and the patient gets restless due to the pain.
  • Formation of the tophus under the skin due to the accumulation of uric acid crystals that can be felt from outside the body.

Causes:

Gout occurs due to the deposition of uric acid crystals at joints, causing inflammation.

Uric acid is usually excreted out from the body through urine, but due to improper assimilation of purine blood uric acid level increases sometimes forming uric acid crystals. These crystals at time deposit under the skin forming tophus which is a very significant symptom for gout, clinically.

Risk factors:
  • Men are at higher risk than women.
  • Women after menopause are at higher risk of developing gout.
  • Family history
  • Alcohol consumption interferes with uric acid excretion from the body.
  • Eating high amounts of purine-rich food.
  • Chronic exposure to lead
  • Obesity
  • Recent injury or surgery
Complications:
  • Urate crystals tend to accumulate in kidneys and form stones.
  • Recurrent episodes of gout.

Lifestyle changes to check symptoms:

  • Drink lots of fluid
  • Avoid consumption of alcohol.
  • Avoid tobacco smoking.
  • Maintain healthy body weight.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Avoid purine-rich food.
  • Take medicines as directed by your doctor.
  • Eat healthy food.
When to see a doctor?

If you experience symptoms of gout see a doctor. Untreated gout can lead to several complications.

 

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