What is gout?
People who have gout experience flare-ups, during which the pain is worse, and periods of remission, which have less pain. Flare-ups can start suddenly, and may last for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Periods of remission can last up to a few years.
In the distant past, people thought gout was a disease only rich people or royalty could get. This is because it is caused by drinking alcohol and eating foods that were only available to the wealthy at the time.
Signs of gout
The main sign of gout is pain and swelling of the affected joint. The joint may also be red and feel warm.
Your first gout flare-up may be shorter and less severe. Subsequent flare-ups are usually longer and progressively more painful.
Causes of gout and pseudogout
A buildup of uric acid in the body causes gout. Under normal circumstances, uric acid dissolves in your blood. However, sometimes it does not dissolve and instead turns into sharp, pain-causing crystals. These crystals are also a cause of kidney stones.
The buildup of this acid is caused by purines. This substance is in food and in your body's tissue naturally. Foods that are high in purines include:
- All alcoholic drinks
- Certain other types of fish, like anchovies, sardines, codfish, trout, and haddock
There is another similar condition called pseudogout. It has very similar symptoms to gout, but it is caused by a buildup of calcium phosphate instead.
Risk factors for gout include:
- Being a man
- Being overweight
- Having someone in your family who also has gout
- Taking diuretics
- Drinking alcohol frequently
- Eating too many foods with purines
- Eating too much fructose
- Having one of the following conditions:
Diagnosis and tests for gout
Your doctor will first take a detailed medical history to find out more about your symptoms. They will then do a physical exam to rule out other conditions that may cause joint pain.
To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor might take an X-ray of the affected joint. They may also take a sample of the fluid from the painful joint to test it for uric acid and rule out other conditions like bacterial infections.
Gout may be hard to diagnose in some cases, because it may be similar to other forms of arthritis. However, with a combination of an interview, a physical exam, and testing, your doctor can diagnose you.
Treatment for gout
Doctors often recommend that people with gout make lifestyle changes to reduce purines in their diet and lessen other risk factors.
These changes may include:
- Limiting alcohol drinking
- Eating a healthy diet with fewer foods that have purine
- Exercising regularly
- Trying to lose weight
When making lifestyle changes like exercising more frequently, be sure to choose activities that will be easy on your joints. Otherwise, you could make your gout worse.
Your doctor may prescribe medication to help prevent gout attacks by reducing uric acid levels. These medications include:
Sometimes, doctors may prescribe a steroid injection or oral steroids. The anti-inflammatory medication colchicine is often prescribed in conjunction with one of the aforementioned drugs that reduce uric acid levels.
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Best Diet For Gout: What To Eat, What To AvoidGout is a type of arthritis causing pain and swelling in the joints. The disease happens when the body has high levels of a substance called uric acid or urate. Foods that may help keep gout in check are fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, eggs, oils, flaxseeds, potatoes, rice and nuts.
GoutBuildup of uric acid crystals in a joint causes gouty arthritis. Symptoms and signs include joint pain, swelling, heat, and redness, typically of a single joint. Gout may be treated with diet and lifestyle changes, as well as medication.
Gout Diet Foods MenuWhether you get gout can depend on your diet. Some foods like red meat, alcohol, and high-fructose corn syrup in sodas can raise your risks. But other foods can reduce gout attacks. Limiting foods that cause gout in your diet can protect you from this painful joint condition, a type of arthritis.
Gout SlideshowGout attacks (gouty arthritis) are caused by crystals of uric acid deposits. Learn about symptoms, causes, treatments and medication for this painful condition.
Gout QuizLearn what causes those painful crystals to form during a gout flare. Take the Gout Quiz to learn all about this painful arthritic condition.
How Do You Get Rid of Gout Pain Fast?Learn what medical treatments can help ease your gout symptoms and speed up your recovery.
PseudogoutPseudogout, a form of arthritis, results when deposits of crystals collect in and around the joints. Symptoms of pseudogout include pain, stiffness, warmth, and joint swelling of the knees, ankles, hips, shoulders, and/or wrists. Treatment for pseudogout aims to decrease inflammation through the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, ice, and rest.
What Foods Get Rid of Gout?A gout diet may help decrease uric acid levels in the blood. A gout diet isn't a cure. But it may lower the risk of recurring gout attacks and slow the progression of joint damage.