Have you ever had any severe pain in your joints, especially in your foot..your big toe? Does the symptoms sometimes gets worse and sometimes none at all? Well, I think you need to read this article to learn more about this kind of problem.
Let me tell you about Gout, a very painful and disabling type of arthritis. During ancient times, people already have this kind of problem and they refer this painful and potentially disabling kind of arthritis as a “disease of the kings” because they usually associated it with the foods and drinks that usually only the rich and powerful people could afford… Actually this form of arthritis can affect anyone-rich or poor.
Sometimes, a person can get a period of what we call “flares”, where symptoms is so severe. There will be times also that the person has no symptoms at all, which is called as “remission”.
I remember my brother has this kind of arthritis and every time it gets worse, he stays at home and cannot walk at all because of pain. At first, I thought this is just a simple kind of pain, but when I have learned more about it, I now understand that this is not just any kind of pain..this is a pain that no one can even describe how it really feels because it is so intensely painful.
Let us discuss more about Gout and understand how we can try to deal with this kind of problem…
Gout is an inflammatory condition that happens when there is a buildup of uric acid in a joint. Uric acid is a by-product of the metabolism of purines, a compound present in many types of food. Normally, uric acid is excreted via the kidneys. When uric acid builds up in a joint, it causes gout.
Usually, gout starts in the big toe, where uric acid accumulates and form crystals. However, the acid can also build up in other joints like ankles, fingers and wrists.
It is a painful condition that can be debilitating, impairing your day to day function. While gout is a common problem, it is now being recognized as a serious problem that impacts on function, leading to increased absence from work and social engagements, and negative economic consequences.
Causes of Gout and Uric Acid Build up
There are many reasons you can suffer from gout, and it can be a combination of causes that lead up to you feeling pain in your joints. The most common contributor of uric acid is purine, which is present in red meat, seafood and fermented products.
Drinking alcohol can make your gout worse, as it dehydrates you and it is also high in purine. Uric acid can build up when you are dehydrated, as the kidneys struggle to remove waste products from your body. Other causes of gout are obesity, medications and genetics.
Signs and Symptoms
The first sign of gout is usually a sharp pain in the big toe, and it can become worse twelve to twenty- four hours later. The pain is followed by swelling, warmth, and redness of the toe. You may also suffer from a slight fever, but after a day the pain may subside slowly.
Without treatment, gout pain may last for a week or two. Other signs of gout include a bump called a tophi. A tophi is a visible uric acid build up under the skin, and doctors can perform a removal to confirm the diagnosis of gout via presence of uric acid.
What Happens if Untreated…
Gout pain will subside even if untreated, but the risk of the pain returning is high. Gout pain can stop you from working and having a good quality of life. If left untreated, gout can become worse and you can start to have deformations caused by uric acid deposits.
High levels of uric acid or hyperuricemia can lead to other health problems like blood pressure issues and kidney stones. It is also shown that hyperuricemia can cause metabolic problems such as insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes.
Importance of Consulting a Doctor
Doctors can check your uric acid levels via a blood tests, but that is not a definitive diagnosis for gout. Ultrasound of your joints showing uric acid deposits can confirm that you have gout, and your doctor can then make recommendations towards your treatment.
Knowing that you have high uric acid levels and gout helps the doctor focus on a long- term treatment plan. Once you have a firm diagnosis, you can make changes to your lifestyle to avoid suffering from gout pain.
Avoiding doctors and self-treating using pain medications can cause problems in the future, and it is not a long-term solution for gout. Without removing the cause of gout, the uric acid deposits may accumulate in other places and you will suffer gout in more areas of your body. The crystals can also form in your kidneys, resulting in kidney stones and infection.
While there is no substantial evidence that reducing purine- rich food in your diet will help with gout, it can prevent more uric acid from building up in your body. Doctors can prescribe medications to reduce the levels of urate ( uric acid) to stop the progression of deposits.
When you have an acute gout attack, you can use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to help reduce pain. Some doctors will give colchicine for an acute attack if you cannot tolerate NSAIDs.
Lifestyle modifications such as increasing physical activity and hydration will also help you manage your symptoms and disease. If you have inherited risk of gout from your family, you can reduce your chances of suffering by engaging in a healthy lifestyle, reducing intake of food that are rich in purines and avoiding alcohol.
We’re hoping that this has helped in some way. If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment section and we will be more than happy to help you out as much as we can.
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All the best,
Jacy and Ryan (TMD Team)