What Is Gout?
Gout, often referred to as “the rich man’s disease”, is a painful form of arthritis caused by uric acid build up, and subsequently inflammation, that usually affects a single joint. It received its moniker when our understanding medicine was underdeveloped, but the information actually holds water. People believed eating a diet heavy with meats caused the uric acid build-up associated with gout, and even with our modern understanding of the disease, we know this to be partially true.
Pain commences when uric acid crystals settle into joints and soft tissues. Once these crystals are in the joints arthritis forms. Joints in the big toe are often attacked, although joints located elsewhere and surrounding areas like the ankles, heels, knees, wrists, fingers, elbows, and the upper surface of the foot arch are sometimes targeted.
Symptoms of Gout
Symptoms of gout appear during two of its four stages. There are no symptoms in the first stage, but there is an increased amount of uric acid in the blood at this time. This condition is called hyperuricemia. In the second stage uric acid crystals are found in the spaces in the joints, and the joints are extremely painful due to inflammation. Increased heat, redness, soreness, and puffiness in the area may be felt. Stress, alcohol, drugs, or ailments in addition to gout can set off these symptoms, usually during the night. An episode can last for up to ten days, and it may be several months or years before another one is experienced. After a while these episodes may linger for more than ten days and return more often. The third stage shows no symptoms as this is the time before the next attack. Chronic arthritis is experienced during the fourth stage and it is accompanied with pain in the joints. Sometimes lumps called tophi appear in the soft tissue that is found in the elbows and ears and kidney damage is present.
Treatments for Gout
Treatment for gout is designed to eliminate the pain that manifests when acute attacks occur, stop the episodes, and prevent lumps or tophi and kidney stones from developing. This can be accomplished with the aid of anti-inflammatory medication, steroids, and colchicine. Allopurinol or febuxostat may be prescribed to bring down the level of uric acid in the blood. Discontinuing the intake of medication that causes hyperuricemia can be part of the treatment too. Treatment to put an end to flare-ups may also include dieting to lose weight, cutting down on the amount of purine foods consumed, and eliminating the intake of alcoholic beverages.
Gout is common in people who have family members that had or have gout. More men than women get gout, and adults rather than children get it. Carrying excess pounds makes one more vulnerable to this condition, as does alcohol abuse. Consuming an abundance of purine rich foods contributes to gout and worsens it if it is already present. When the kidneys do not adequately remove waste from the body, gout sometimes develops. Other causes of gout include hypertension, hypothyroidism, psoriasis, hemolytic anemia, certain types of cancer, Kelley-Seegmiller syndrome, Lesch-Nyhan syndrome, diuretic medication, medication that contains salicylate, cyclosporine, levodopa, and niacin.
Diet for Gout
A diet for gout should include 32 ounces of black cherry juice and 48 ounces of H20 daily. Drinking these fluids will wash away the uric acid. Fresh cherries should be eaten too, along with potassium rich foods like bananas, strawberries, celery, broccoli, and potatoes since these foods help with removing acid crystals from the body. Organ meats, red meat, mushrooms, asparagus, legumes, spinach, sardines, anchovies, lobster, clams, and other purine foods should not be eaten. Foods made with white flour, caffeine, fried, foods, and saturated fat should be limited. High fructose syrup should not be consumed.
Gout can cause permanent damage to the joints and kidneys if not treated. Once a doctor has been seen and it is under control, life can go on without pain. Everyday tasks can be completed without discomfort, and life can be enjoyed again.