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Gout: Symptoms, Risk Factors, Causes, and Treatment

What is Gout?

Gout is a type of arthritis caused by a build-up of uric acid crystals in the joints. This condition has the distinction as it is one of the most frequently recorded illnesses throughout history. A gout attack can occur suddenly that may often wake you up at night and even the weight of your bedsheet is intolerable. This condition can occur in anyone but they often come earlier in men than women because men often have higher levels of uric acid.

Symptoms of polio

What are the Symptoms of Gout?

  • Intense pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling and redness
  • Limited range of motion
  • Tenderness even to light touch
  • Warmth or a feeling like your joint is on fire

Some attacks may occur frequently and others go years between episodes. If left untreated, attacks may become more frequent and may last longer which may also happen over again in the same joint.

Risk Factors of Gout

You are more likely to develop this condition if you:

  • Eat lots of purine-rich foods such as red meat, sardines, scallops, and tuna
  • Are overweight or obese which causes your body to produce an excessive amount of uric acid
  • Have chronic conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease
  • Consume food and drinks that contain high fructose or corn syrup
  • Drink a high amount of alcohol
  • Are taking high blood pressure medications such as diuretics and beta blockers
  • Have an imbalance in your gut bacteria or have a weak immune system

What Causes Gout?

Gout is caused by crystals accumulating in your joint that cause inflammation and intense pain during an attack. Crystals can form when you have high levels of uric acid in your blood. Other causes are linked to certain medications, existing diseases, weight, and dietary choices.

Blood tests

How is Gout Diagnosed?

  • Joint fluid test. It is a method that uses a needle to draw fluid from the affected joint and examine it under a microscope.
  • Blood test. It measures the level of uric acid in the blood to determine your diagnosis.
  • X-ray imaging. Joint X-rays can be helpful to rule out other causes of joint inflammation.
  • Ultrasound. This test uses sound waves to detect urate crystals in joints.
  • Dual-energy computerized tomography (DECT). This test combines X-ray images taken from many different angles to visualize urate crystals in joints.

Treatment, Management, and Prevention of Gout

There are two types of medication available for this condition to focus on two different problems. The first type reduces the inflammation and pain associated with the attack. The second type prevents gout complications by lowering the amount of uric acid in your blood. However, the potency of the medication depends on the severity and frequency of your symptoms along with other health problems.

Medication Used for Gout

  1. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. This includes OTC options however, talk to your doctor about taking this for a lengthier period as it increases your risk of developing stomach ulcers.
  2. Allopurinol. It is a medication used to reduce high blood uric acid levels. It prevents gout and specific types of kidney stones. The dosage of this medication depends on the recommendation from your doctor. Ensure to finish the treatment course to get the utmost benefits of the prescription.
  3. Corticosteroids. It controls inflammation and pain. Side effects of this medication may include mood changes, hypertension, and high sugar levels. Discuss with your doctor the possible risk and benefits of taking this prescription.

Lifestyle and Home Remedies for Gout

Medications work best if it is coupled with a proper diet and healthy lifestyle. If you have this condition it is always important to:

  • Choose healthier beverages and avoid sugar and alcohol
  • Avoid foods that are high in purine such as red meat. Swap your trigger foods with safer choices such as low-fat dairy products.
  • Exercise to keep your body healthy and improve mobility.
  • Keeping your body at a healthy weight is also a good remedy and prevention of gout attacks.

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