Everything You Need to Know About Gout


You may have heard about how painful gout can be before, but do you know what it is? Gout is a complex type of inflammatory arthritis that is caused by a buildup of uric acid.

The buildup of uric acid can create sharp crystals in an affected joint. This causes sudden attacks of severe pain, redness, tenderness and swelling in the joints. Gout often affects the base of the big toe. Gout can affect anyone, and the prevalence of the disorder has risen in the U.S. over the past twenty years. Gout has been a commonly recorded medical ailment throughout history. Keep reading to learn more about gout and how it can be treated.

What is Gout?

Gout is an extremely painful type of inflammatory arthritis. It causes intense pain often in a joint, although sometimes more than one joint is affected. Gout primarily affects the joint that is located at the base of the big toe. There are several stages involved in gout including:

  • Asymptomatic hyperuricemia
    • Occurs before the first attack of gout
    • Blood uric acid levels are high
    • Crystals are forming in the joint
    • No symptoms
  • Gout attack
    • Uric acids spike
    • Intense inflammation and pain are triggered around a joint and may get worse over the next eight to twelve hours
    • Symptoms improve over the next few days and may last up to ten days
    • Over half of sufferers will experience another attack within a year
  • Interval gout
    • Time in-between attacks
    • Pain has diminished, but there is still low-level inflammation damaging the joints
    • Gout should start to be managed with treatments to prevent future attacks
  • Chronic gout
    • Uric acid levels remain high
    • Gout attacks become more frequent
    • Joint damage occurs
    • May lead to decreased mobility

Signs and Symptoms

There are a few main symptoms of gout, which often occur at night. The onset of symptoms is often very rapid and intense. A few of the main symptoms associated with gout include:

  • Severe pain
    • Often affects a joint located in the big toe
    • Can affect any joint including ankles, knees, fingers, and elbows
    • Pain is the most intense during the first few hours after it first begins
  • Inflammation
    • The affected joint or joints are swollen and tender
  • Redness
    • The affected joint or joints become red and warm
  • Lingering pain
    • Discomfort and sensitivity may last for a few days up to a few weeks
  • Decreased motion
    • When gout continues to progress in the joints, mobility may be affected

Treatment

Gout if often treated using medications. The doctor will work with the patient to determine what medications are best suited to treat their case of gout based on their current health. Medications are used to treat acute attacks and to help prevent future attacks from occurring. Medications may also be used to lower the body’s level of uric acid in the case of frequent gout attacks, kidney stones, and joint damage.

Lifestyle changes can improve symptoms including diet changes such as limiting alcohol, fructose-sweetened drinks, red meat, and sea food. Partaking in regular exercise and keeping a healthy weight can reduce the risk of gout. Alternative treatments have not been researched thoroughly enough to have been proven, but some believe that certain foods should be eaten to help reduce uric acid levels. Relaxation techniques, meditation, ice packs and warm baths can help to ease pain.

You should always speak with your doctor before trying new lifestyle and alternative changes.

Disclaimer: Information on this website is not meant to encourage the self-management of any health or wellness issue. Nor is it meant to encourage any one type of medical treatment. Any treatment or advice used may have varying results between individuals. Readers with health-related questions, are always encouraged to seek proper consultation with a physician or certified healthcare provider. No information on this website should be used to ignore any medical or health-related advice, nor should it be the root cause for a delay in a consultation with a physician or a certified healthcare provider.

No information on this website should be used to start the use of dietary supplements and vitamins, natural and herbal products, homeopathic medicine and other mentioned products prior to a consultation with a physician or certified healthcare provider.