Gout is a form of arthritis. Gout can cause severe pain, swelling and reddening of the joints. Excess uric acid, a waste product of the body, can cause gout. When purines are broken down, uric acid is created. Purines are substances found naturally in the body. They can be found in certain foods, such as meats, fish, and shellfish.
The kidneys normally remove uric acids from the blood. The kidneys then eliminate the uric acid from the blood through the urine. Uric acid can buildup in the body if it is not removed from the kidneys or too much. Uric acid can build up in the body and form tiny crystals around or inside the joints.
Gout attacks often begin with sudden pain and swelling in the joints. Gout can affect any joint, including the big toe. It may feel warm around the joint. Redder skin may appear around the joint.
Gout attacks usually resolve within one week. An attack can recur. Attacks may become more frequent and last longer over time.
Gout can become a problem if it isn’t treated. Over time, uric acid deposits (called tophi) can build up under the skin. Gout can also cause damage to the joints if left untreated.
Gout is the most common form of arthritis. Gout is more common among men. Gout is more common in men than it is in women after menopause.
- Microscopic examinations of joint fluid
- Sometimes, special X-rays or ultrasounds are required.
Gout is often diagnosed by doctors based on specific symptoms and a thorough examination of the affected joints. These symptoms are indicative of gout.
- Podagra is sudden swelling, pain, and reddening of the big toe.
- Instep inflammation recurrently
- History of spontaneous and sudden attacks in the past
Gout can lead to high blood levels of uric acids in many people. In the event of acute attacks, however, the blood uric acid levels may be normal. High blood uric acids levels can be caused by many things, including gout attacks. Blood tests alone cannot diagnose the problem.
Gout can be diagnosed when uric acids crystals are detected on a needle sample from tophus or joint fluid (joint Puncture), which is then examined under a special polarised microscope.
Joint damage or the presence of tophi may be revealed by X-rays. To detect uric acids deposits, doctors may perform special ultrasounds or CT scans.
Gout can mimic other types of arthritis and sometimes be confused with it.
- Painkillers to reduce swelling and inflammation
- Rest, immobilisation with splints or ice of the painful joint
- Weight loss and diet changes to lower uric acids levels can help prevent future attacks.
- Preventive medication to reduce inflammation due to crystals
- The most effective treatment for gout is to use drugs to lower uric acid levels. However, it can take time to dissolve all deposits.
Gout treatment has three goals:
- The acute inflammatory attack can be treated
- Prevention of future attacks
- Reduce uric acids in the blood to prevent uric acid accumulation in tissues
What factors increase the risk of developing gout?
Gout isn’t known for sure. Gout can be caused by a variety of factors. Gout is more common in those who have had it. Gout can also be caused by being overweight.
Gout attacks can be triggered by certain medications that increase the amount of uric acid within the body. Aspirin and certain types of diuretics (pills to help you urinate) are two examples. Inform your doctor about any medications you are taking and consult your doctor before you stop using them.
Gout attacks can also be triggered by certain foods and drinks
Red meats, such as beef, lamb, and pork, and organ meats (such liver and kidney).
Seafood and fish (especially anchovies, shellfish and sardines).
High fructose corn syrup foods and beverages (e.g., candy, biscuits, sweetened drinks, and juices)
All types of alcohol, including beer, wine, and spirits
How can gout be diagnosed?
It can be hard to determine if someone has gout by looking at their symptoms. Similar symptoms can also be caused by other types of arthritis. Your doctor may be able to help you diagnose gout.
To determine the amount of uric acids in your blood, you can do a blood test. To check for uric acids crystals, draw some fluid from the affected joints with a needle. To examine your joints, you can do an X-ray or ultrasound.