Gout symptoms, causes and treatment

Gout is a common health condition that affects everyone. It is a complex form of arthritis characterized by an onset of severe pain, redness, swelling, and tenderness in the joints. It often happens suddenly and affects the joint at the base of the big toe. 

Table of Medications

  • Allopurinol
  • Uloric
  • Zyloprim
  • Aloprim
  • Febuxostat
  • Krystexxa
  • Probenecid
  • Pegloticase
  • Lesinurad
  • Rilonacept

Overview

Attacks of gout can happen suddenly. Often patients will feel a burning sensation on their toe even while sleeping. The affected area will feel swollen, hot, and very tender than even the weight of a blanket is not tolerable. The symptoms of gout can come and go, but since its pain can be intolerable, you should apply ways to manage pain and prevent flares. 

Symptoms of Gout

Gout has many causes, and one of them is having too much uric acid in the blood. However, there are people with high uric acid but show no symptoms. These people have asymptomatic gout.

The symptoms of acute gout can happen quickly from the buildup of crystallized uric acid in the joints. These symptoms can last from three to ten days, wherein you may experience intense pain and swelling. The joints may also feel warm during an attack. On the other hand, you will not feel any of these symptoms between attacks. 

If you ignore your gout and do not seek treatment, it can lead to a chronic condition. Tophi or hard lumps can develop in your joints as well as on the skin and tissue around it. It will soon damage your joints permanently. 

To prevent chronic gout, prompt treatment is essential. You have to know about the symptoms so that you can seek help from your doctor before your gout causes permanent damage. 

Causes of  Gout

Gout is a painful health issue that happens when urate crystals build up in your joint. You may experience intense pain and inflammation during a gout attack. The formation of urate crystal is due to the high uric acid levels in the blood. 

Uric acid is produced by the body when purines, a substance naturally produced by the body is broken down. This substance is also found in some food, including organ meats, seafood, and steaks. Likewise, some foods also promote higher levels of uric acid. It includes alcoholic drinks like beer and sweetened beverages.

In typical cases, uric acid easily dissolves in the blood and passes through the kidneys. The body expels it through urine. However, there are instances when the body produces too much uric acid, and the kidneys expel too little uric acid. Uric acid can accumulate and form sharp urate crystals in the joint. This can lead to a painful gout attack with inflammation and swelling of the joint and the surrounding tissues. 

Diagnosis and Treatment of Gout

Your physician will take a physical examination, make a review of your medical history, and consider your symptoms before they make a diagnosis of your condition. Your doctor will come up with a gout diagnosis base on the following:

  • Description of the joint pain your experience
  • Oftenness of your intense joint pain
  • Redness and swelling in the area

To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor may order several tests to check if there is a uric acid build up in your joint. They may take sample fluid from your joint to be examined for any presence of uric acid. The doctor may also ask to have an X-ray of your joint. 

If you experience gout symptoms, your doctor can discuss primary care and pain management with you. If you have a severe case of gout, you have to see a joint disease specialist. 

Treatment of Gout

Untreated gout will eventually develop into arthritis. This can be a painful condition wherein your joints become swollen and permanently damage your joint.

Depending on the stage and severity of your condition, your doctor can create a treatment plan suited for you. Some medications are used to treat gout. These medicines work two-ways. First, it relieves pain and brings down inflammation. Second, it prevents future attacks by reducing levels of uric acid to the minimum. 

Some drugs used to relieve gout pain are corticosteroids, colchicine, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Additionally, medications that prevent attacks include probenecid and xanthine oxidase inhibitors.

Doctors may also advise you to make some lifestyle changes along with regular medication. It will help you better manage your symptoms and lessen your risks of gout attacks. For instance, your doctor will encourage the following:

  • Weight loss
  • Quitting smoking
  • Cutting back on alcohol intake

Also, you can try alternative therapies for your condition. Medicines and lifestyle changes are not the only means to manage your gout. Here are some ideas for you to consider. 

Avoiding Gout Foods

Ideally, you should avoid foods that are high in purine content when you have gout. Purines become uric acid, and if your body has trouble expelling it out, you should avoid uric acid-rich food too. To prevent and cut back on food or drinks like organ meats, red meats, alcohol, and some seafood. 

Moreover, there are sweetened foods and beverages containing fructose, which may also lead to gout attacks. You should also learn more about food that lowers uric acid levels in the body to avoid any gout problems in the future. 

Home Remedies for Gout 

Not all gout-relief are prescribed and bought from pharmacies. There are also natural remedies that help lower the levels of uric acid in the body and ultimately prevent gout attacks. Learn how much to take of these foods or minerals. Also, learn how you can prepare your meals with them as ingredients so you can tame gout more effectively.

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Magnesium
  • Ginger
  • Milk thistle seeds 
  • Nettle tea
  • Dandelion
  • Tart cherries
  • Celery

Gout Surgery

Gout is a condition that can be treated with proper management,  medication. However, after several years, the crystals can tear the tendons, damage your joints, and cause skin infections on the area around the joint, therefore requiring surgery.

Hardened uric deposits called tophi will accumulate in the joints and other places around your body, including your ears. It can swell and cause pain, and the lumps may permanently damage the joints. Doctors may suggest any of the three tophi procedures help your condition. These procedures are joint replacement surgery, joint fusion, or tophi removal surgery. 

Depending on the extent of damage to your joint, and location of the lumps, your doctor will discuss viable options for you. 

What are the normal conditions?

In normal conditions, your uric acid is quickly dissolved and is excreted by the kidneys through urine. During the symptom-free period, you should make necessary adjustments in your lifestyle to prevent future attacks of gout. Here are some suggestions:

Stay Hydrated – Drink plenty of water and stay well-hydrated. Limit intake of sweetened drinks, especially those that contain high-fructose corn syrup. 

Avoid or limit alcohol – beer is seen to increase the risk of gout symptoms in men mainly.

Choose Low-Fat – source out protein from low-fat dairy products. These food items are particularly helpful in protecting you against gout; thus, they are your ideal protein sources. 

Choose your types of meat, fish, or poultry – pay close attention to the kind of meat, poultry, or fish that you eat. Small amounts are tolerable, but there will be types that can cause problems if you have gout. 

Stay on a healthy weight – losing weight will help decrease uric acid levels in the body; however, avoid rapid weight loss and fasting.

Risks of Having Gout

People with high uric acid levels are more likely to develop gout. Factors that increase the level of uric acid include the following:

Diet and Lifestyle 

A diet rich in meat, seafood, and beverages sweetened with fruit sugar will result in a higher level of uric acid in the body. It will increase your risk of gout attacks. Likewise, alcohol consumption, especially beer, also increases your risk. 

Obesity 

The body produces more uric acid when you are overweight. With this condition, the kidneys also have a difficult time expelling uric acid through urine. 

Medical Conditions 

Some health conditions and diseases also increase your risk of developing gout. Some examples are diabetes, heart and kidney diseases, and metabolic syndrome disease. 

Certain Medications 

Some medications are considered risk factors for having gout. Some examples are thiazide diuretics, which are used to treat hypertension and low-dose aspirin — also, anti-rejection drugs given to people with organ transplants. 

Family History

If this condition is present in other members of the family, then you are more likely to develop gout as well. 

Age and Gender

Gout affects mostly men because women primarily have lower levels of uric acid in their bodies. However, after the menopausal period, women’s uric acid levels also increase. Men experience gout at ages 30 to 50, whereas women develop symptoms after menopause. 

Recent Surgery and Trauma

If you recently had trauma or surgery, you have an increased risk of developing gout. 

When to Seek Medical Attention

Call your doctor if you have sudden and intense pain in your joint. Untreated gout can lead to worsening pain as well as joint damage.  Moreover, seek immediate medical care if you have a fever, and your joint feels hot and swollen. It might be a sign of an infection.