Gout is a type of arthritis, which is very common in old age. This article provides information about the contributing factors, characteristic symptoms, and available treatment options for gout attacks.
Arthritis is an umbrella term for a number of diseases that are characterized by inflammation of joints. It is a complex and painful form of arthritis. Research suggests that around 800 out of 100,000 people tend to get affected by this medical condition. This disease is rare in children and young adults, but it is very common among people who are in the age group of 40 – 50 years. Men are more likely to develop this condition, but women become more susceptible after menopause. In addition to this, people who have had an organ transplant are more susceptible to gout. This condition affects the joints, and more often the joint at the base of the big toe.
Symptoms and Causes
These attacks are more common at night, and often occur without any warning. The main symptom of this condition is the pain, that often seems to originate from the joint of the big toe. The affected part, which is commonly the big toe, becomes stiff, swollen, warm, tender, and red. However, this pain can also be felt in other joints such as ankles, knees, hands, and wrists. Even after the pain subsides, a feeling of discomfort may persist for a few days or few weeks. The next attack may not take place for months or even years.
To understand the factors behind the onset of gout, you need to know more about uric acid. Uric acid is naturally produced in the body when purines (present in food and all kinds of cells) are broken down in the body. Under normal circumstances, this acid gets removed from the body in the form of urine. However, in certain circumstances, either the body produces too much of uric acid, or the kidneys are not able to filter it and excrete it.
In some cases, both of these occur in combination, which leads to the buildup of uric acid in the blood. Accumulated uric acid forms sharp, needle-like crystals, which surround the joint and nearby tissues, thereby causing pain and inflammation. This condition arises when the uric acid level in the blood is very high.
The symptoms can be relieved, if the treatment is initiated within 24 hours of the attack. The treatment mainly involves the use of certain medicines. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), colchicine, and corticosteroids are used to treat the symptoms in case of an acute attack. Certain drugs are recommended to reduce the risk of gout-related complications. These include drugs which are designed to block the uric acid production, and help in reducing the risk of recurrence.
Apart from using medication, some other measures could be taken to reduce the risk. Drink 8 – 9 glasses of water in a day, along with plenty of fluids. This would help in flushing out uric acid from the system. Refrain from consuming alcohol. Consumption of purine-rich food such as poultry, meat, and fish needs to be avoided, or at least limited.
Most people with gout have benefited from the consumption of cherries. Being rich in vitamin C, these fruits help in eliminating the uric acid deposits, thereby reducing the painful symptoms. Eating about 10 – 15 cherries, or consuming a glass of cherry juice everyday, is known to provide a great deal of help in the treatment.
Though drug therapy is certainly the best treatment option to alleviate the symptoms of this medical condition, increasing one’s water intake and following a healthy diet will certainly prove beneficial. Also, cut down on the intake of alcohol, and avoid food items that trigger flare-ups.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.