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Information for Gout Sufferers

What is Gout?

gout causes pain and inflammation in the joints.

Gout is a form of arthritis. It can cause an attack of sudden burning pain, stiffness, and swelling in a joint, usually a big toe. These attacks can happen over and over unless gout is treated. Over time, they can harm your joints, tendons, and other tissues.

  • Gout, also called metabolic arthritis, is a painful and debilitating disease.
  • Men are at least four times more likely to develop gout than women.
  • It occurs more frequently in countries that have a high standard of living.
  • Men who develop gout usually do so between the ages of 30 and 50. Women are more likely to develop gout after the age of 60.
  • On average, approximately 2 in 1000 men aged 18 to 44, and 34 in 10,00 men aged 45-65 will “get the gout”.
  • Chronic gout can lead to decreased kidney function and kidney stones.
  • There is primary and secondary gout. The symptoms are the same, but the causes are different and they affect two different groups of people.
  • Primary gout is the type of gout which develops in men aged 30 to 60 years old. Other health problems associated with primary gout are obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidaemia, and high levels of alcohol consumption.

    Secondary gout occurs in men aged from 60 years old and onward. Secondary gout is caused by frequent use of diuretic medication, which is basically a general term for any urination aid. Some other health problems associated with secondary gout are renal impairment (kidneys not working properly), and osteoarthritis.

Gout is the term for a condition caused when uric acid (a naturally occurring substance in the human body and in certain foods) hardens into small crystals that get stuck in joints.

    Uric acid is a substance that forms when the body breaks down waste products. The kidneys are responsible for filtering uric acid out, which then exits the body in urine. If the uric acid doesn’t leave the system, because either the kidneys don’t catch it and/or the body is simply producing too much of it, it can start to build up in the bloodstream, causing hyperuricemia, which leads to a higher risk of contracting gout.

When hardened uric acid gets stuck in your joints, it causes inflammation (or swelling) and pain in the joint, especially when the joint is moved. Gout is most commonly found in the big toe, but can also pop up in the heel, the ankle, the hand, the wrist, and/or the elbow. The inflammation and swelling generally lasts from 5 to 10 days before the affected joint returns to normal.

Do I have Gout?

If you have any of the following indications, you may be suffering from gout (or be at risk of suffering from gout).

  • Rapid onset of intense inflammation, redness, and warmth in your joint(s) over the course of one day – generally in the middle of the night. Most often this occurs in your big toe and the bones and joints attached to it.
  • Fever or chills developing.
  • The attack quickly subsides. Gout attacks normally subside within hours or days.
  • You are already suffering from hyperuricemia (the build-up of uric acid in the blood stream).
  • Tophi either are proven to have developed or are suspected of developing in any of your joints.
  • Tophi is a deposit of uric acid, which forms in the joints of hyperuricemia and gout sufferers.

See your doctor even if your pain goes away. The buildup of uric acid that led to the attack can still harm your joints.

    Pseudogout. This refers to a condition called chondrocalcinosis. It’s referred to as pseudogout because of the joint pain it creates feels and exhibits symptoms similar to regular gout. Pseudogout is caused by deposits of calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate crystals in joints. It occurs most commonly in the knee.

How is it diagnosed?

gout testing is done with  needle to take a sample of the fluid in the joint.

Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms (make sure you describe them all in detail) and do a physical examination. Your doctor may also use a syringe to take a sample of fluid (arthrocentesis) from your joint to look for uric acid crystals. This is the best way to test for gout. Additionally, your doctor may also do a blood test, radiography, or an x-ray examination. The blood test measures the amount of uric acid in your blood. The radiography or x-ray reveals any asymetrical swelling within a joint.

How did I get it?

A number of factors seem to contribute to gout. Acute gout may be triggered by events such as surgery, heart attacks, or trauma. Use of alcohol or some medications, such as certain diuretics (also known as water pills), particularly those used to treat high blood pressure, can set off a gout attack. Certain foods, such as seafood and liver, and beverages, such as coffee and tea may contribute to the incidence of gout. A family history of gout is common for those who develop it, and this may be a result of genetic predisposition or environmental factors.

Do you have more questions?

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