If you’ve ever woken up every night from a peaceful sleep to a jarring pain in your big toe or your ankles, chances are, you probably are suffering from gout.
Gout – What is it?
Gout is considered a painful ailment that is similar to an intricate form of arthritis. It is caused when your body builds up an excessive amount of uric acid. When our body accumulates too much uric acid, a formation of crystals will occur and develop in the joints. When this happens, it will create severe pain as well as inflammation around the joints. Uric acid is produced in the body when it breaks down purines. Purines are typically found in foods like seafood, meat, alcohol, fructose, yeast, legumes and certain types of vegetables.
When our body is working normally, uric acid dissipates once it is in our bloodstream. It then flows through the kidneys and later released from our body as urine. However, when there is too much uric acid in our body, our kidneys are unable to break them down completely. The excess uric acid will form needle-shaped crystals in our joints that causes intense pain.
If gout is not addressed early through treatment or dietary changes, the attacks will occur repeatedly and become more frequent. Often, the level of pain for gout attack would double and even last longer.
Not only will there be frequent discomfort and pain, but gout attacks can also even put you at risk of developing other kinds of health problems including cancer and heart attack. It is observed that men are more likely to suffer from gout than women, and developing prostate cancer is also a major concern for them.
What are the signs and symptoms of gout?
More than 8.3 million people in the United States are affected by gout, and the numbers are seemingly growing. When a person suffers a gout attack, it is commonly noticed in the joints surrounding the big toe. Moreover, gout attacks are also more likely to occur at night without warning.
Other symptoms that indicate a gout attack include:
– Extreme pain felt in the joints including ankles, feet, hips, knees, wrists, hands and even fingers
– Visible discoloration seen in the joints and would appear purple or deep red at onset
– Joints become warm and swollen when touched
– Fever with or without chills that would reach to almost 40 degrees Celsius
– Joints become inflamed making movement and mobility difficult
– Joint pains that are lingering with inflammation that can go on for days or weeks
– Solid lumps felt in the joints
Who are at risk of developing gout?
A person has a chance of developing gout when the body has high levels of uric acid. However, certain factors can also increase the risks of suffering from gout attacks. These factors include:
- Being obese
When you are overweight, the body produces higher levels of uric acid. In turn, the kidneys are unable to eliminate the excess uric acid, so most of them form crystals in our joints and develop gout.
- Unhealthy eating habits
A diet that is comprised of red meat, seafood, juices that use artificial sweeteners, increases the production of uric acid in the body. Moreover, drinking too much alcohol can also produce a lot of uric acids as well and increase the risk of gout.
- A family member has gout
Family history can also contribute to the development of gout. If there are other members in your family suffering from gout, chances are, you’re also likely to develop the condition.
- Having certain medical problems
When you’re diagnosed with a certain disease, it can also increase the risk of developing gout. Diseases like high blood pressure or diabetes, kidney and heart diseases are just some of the culprits that are responsible for the development of gout.
- Taking certain prescribed medication
Some medicines, especially the ones for hypertension treatment, can increase the chances of developing gout. It is because of the uric acid levels it produces when taking them at certain doses. Even those who have undergone surgeries or transplants involving the organs can develop gout after taking prescribed drugs during treatment.
- Age and gender roles
It is reported that gout is suffered more by men than women. It is because women have lower uric acid levels than men. However, a woman is likely to develop gout after her menopause stage. Moreover, men would usually develop the condition earlier between 30 to 50 years old. Women would develop gout typically after her menopause age.
- Having surgery recently
When a person just had surgery, gout is more likely to develop as well.
How to manage the pain experienced from gout?
It is highly advised to seek out your doctor when you experience symptoms of gout. Leaving your gout condition untreated can increase your risk of making the condition worse or even cause damage to your joints. If your gout is inflamed and swelling, it is also necessary to seek medical attention as it might be a sign of infection.
However, there are certain preventive steps that you can adapt before the next attack happens:
- Always drink lots and lots of water
Water is necessary to prevent gout attacks. Staying hydrated especially with water can help you release these excess uric acids through urinating. Moreover, try and avoid sweetened drinks especially artificial juices and soda which are extremely high in fructose.
- Limit or avoid drinking alcohol
Beer should especially be avoided as it can increase the risk of developing gout. You can check with your doctor what kind of alcohol and the amount you should take to be safe
- Lower your consumption of protein
Protein is good but only at certain amounts in a day. You can also opt for low-fat dairy products to your protein fix and is your best bet against developing gout.
- Maintain a healthy and ideal weight for your body
Losing those excess pounds can also help you on your way to prevent gout attacks. It is ideal to select healthy portions that shouldn’t make you feel starved but keep you at an ideal weight to decrease uric acid levels.
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