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Gout is a complex type of arthritis that is caused by a buildup of uric acid. It is said that gout can be one of the most painful forms of arthritis. It is attacks of pain, swelling, and tenderness in joints. These attacks usually happen in the big toe first. The ankles, knees, wrists, and elbows can also be affected. Gout is treatable, and steps can be taken to reduce the risks of gout.
The buildup of uric acid can be caused by different things. The body can produce too much uric acid. Too much uric acid in the blood can create urate crystals, and the urate crystals accumulate around the joint causing the intense gout attacks. Uric acid is dissolved in the blood and then passes through your kidneys, the kidneys can lack in the excretion process of the uric acid that can also lead to this painful buildup. A blood test or joint fluid test may help diagnose gout. A blood test may not be the best way to diagnose gout, because some people with gout do not have hyperuricemia. Hyperuricemia is when uric acid levels are high in the blood. To do a joint fluid test a doctor uses a needle to get fluid out of the affected area. The fluid is then looked at under a microscope, where there may be an appearance of urate crystals.
The effects of a gout attack can leave lingering pain that may last a week. The pain can come on without warning. If heat occurs at the site of the joint or a fever it may be signs of an infection, and the person should seek medical attention.
Gout can affect anyone, but is more likely to occur in men. Women are more likely to develop gout after menopause, because their levels of uric acid start to increase and reach the height of males. A man can start to feel symptoms between his 40’s-and 50’s. Many previous health conditions can increase the risks of gout. Some of these conditions include diabetes, high levels of fat and cholesterol in the blood, untreated high blood pressure, and narrowing of the walls of the arteries. Lifestyle factors increase the risk of developing gout. Excessive consumption of alcohol is one of those factors.
You should have a plentiful amount of daily fluid intake, and at least half of your daily fluid should be from water. Also, maintaining a healthy body weight and exercising regularly help reduce the risks of developing gout. Rapid weight loss can increase the levels of uric acid in the body, so crash diets and fasting should be avoided. Coffee, Vitamin C, and cherries have all been associated with lower levels of uric acid. None of which have actually been associated with treating gout, but they may be possible topics to bring up to your doctor if discussing supplements to take with medication to treat gout. The adequate amount of Vitamin C would need to be discussed with your doctor as well, because too much can increase the levels of uric acid in the body.
Gout can be reoccurring, or it could happen once and never come back again. There can be complications if gout is left untreated. If gout advances, tophi’s can form. A tophi is a nodule that forms under the skin, it can be painless but tends to be swollen and tender during a gout flare. The urate crystals can get into the urinary tract and cause kidney stones. These complications and gout attacks can help be prevented with medication. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, colchicine, and corticosteroids are three common types of medications given to people with gout. Medications that block the production of uric acid and improve uric acid removal in the kidneys can also be given. Those two types of medication are more likely given to individuals with advanced gout. The joints can suffer for gout going untreated in some way or another.
Mayoclinic.com Gout The Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic staff, 2011. Web. 9 Oct. 2011.