Swelling, tenderness and inflammation in the joints are some of the tell-tale signs of gout. Most people with gout are affected first at the base of the big toe although other foot joints, knees, ankles, wrists, and fingers can also be affected. Gout is an extremely excruciating condition that can cause extremely sensitivity to even the slightest touch. If you have these symptoms, it is important to see an allied health professional.
About 16 out of every 1,000 people are affected with gout. Most people with gout are overweight men, although gout can affect women. It is less common in women before menopause.
Gout is a type of arthritis that is caused by the kidney’s inability to excrete uric acid. If too much protein is consumed the uric acid that results from the metabolism of the protein is not removed from the body. Eventually deposits of uric acid crystals can build up in the synovial fluid that surrounds the joints. Inflammation occurs in the joints because the immune system trues to eliminate the crystals. Unfortunately the inflammation causes the area to become sensitive for several days or weeks. If left untreated the uric acid crystals can accumulate under the skin of the ears, elbows, and near affected joints.
Obese people who have a greater amount of abdominal fat tend are at greater risk for gout. Losing weight in the stomach area can significantly lower the risk for gout. However, weight loss should be a gradual process because loosing too much weight quickly can cause an increase in uric acid levels resulting in a gout attack. Skipping meals is also not advised for anyone with gout because fasting increases blood levels of uric acid as well.
Some medications can cause gout. Aspirin and certain diuretic medications can interfere with kidney function and cause an increase of uric acid in the body. If you are taking a medication that causes you to have severe joint pain while on drug therapy, consult with your physician.
A gout attack can occur at any time but is often triggered by something that was eaten. Most attacks are sudden and very unpredictable. There are certain foods that contain chemical called purines which promote the overproduction of uric acid. Organ meats, smoked or pickled meats or fish, canned fish, caviar, shellfish, lentils, and other legumes, chocolate, beer, and red wine are some examples of foods that are high in purines and which should be avoided or limited. A person with gout should drink at least 2 quarts of fluids a day. Drinking water is ideal. Caffeinated beverages should be avoided. The fluids help the body to dilute the urine and prevent the formation of kidney stones.