Gout - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Gout is an inflammatory condition of joints that occurs due to the build-up of uric acid. Having gout can make you wake up in the middle of the night due to intense pain. You may feel like your big toe is on fire. It may also become unbearable to put a load on it, even of that of the sheet you are wearing. Your joints may become red, hot, and swollen when a gout attack exacerbates. The signs and symptoms of gout may come and go, but they are manageable. Over the counter, medications and anti-inflammatory drugs can help reduce pain due to it. Also, restricting a diet rich in uric acid can help reduce gout exacerbations. It can be a lifelong condition that needs the right management to prevent exacerbations. 



Symptoms 



Some people have quite high levels of uric acid in the blood, but they may not show any signs and symptoms- a condition known as asymptomatic gout. 


Gout if left untreated, can result in the development of hard lumps called tophi that can develop slowly in your joints and can reach the surrounding skin as well. Tophi can cause permanent damage to your joints. Therefore, you must seek professional advice as soon as you feel pain in your joints. 

Mostly the symptoms of gout occur at night and often suddenly. They may show up as;


Intense joint pain


Gout usually affects the joints of your big toe, causing intense pain. However, it can also affect that of the ankle, elbow wrist, and fingers. The pain is at a peak during the first 4 to 12 hours of an attack. After that, it starts to subsidize. 


Pain that lasts


Gout attack may occur suddenly, but the pain it causes takes time to go and that happens to be lingeringly. It may take days to a week to go. Attacks that occur later may take more time to go as compared to the previous ones. 


Redness 


Gout causes your joints to turn, red, warm, tender, and swollen due to inflammation. 


Range of joint


As gout advances and persists, the range of joints becomes limited. You may not be able to move your foot and hands in the same manner as you used to do that previously. 



Causes 


Gout occurs due to the build-up of gout. It can occur due to conditions that either produce excessive uric acid or hinder its excretion, which can happen due to any of the following conditions.


  • Dehydration 

  • Metabolism disorders

  • Blood disorders

  • Kidney problems 

  • Thyroid problems


Risk factors 


The risk factors for gout can be;


  • Having uncontrolled high blood pressure

  • Having thyroid disease

  • Having a history of gout 

  • Taking medications like cyclosporine or diuretics

  • Drinking too much alcohol

  • Having diabetes or sleep apnea 


People with gout should stop the intake of purine-producing foods that eventually cause a peak in uric acid levels. 


Treatment 


To treat gout, the healthcare providers will prescribe medications that help lower serum uric acid levels, agents called uricosuric agents, and pain relievers like ibuprofen and naproxen to ease the pain. Along with medications, they will ask you to exercise some lifestyle changes like;


  • Maintain a healthy weight according to the body mass index, make sure you are not overweight.

  • Reduce alcohol intake

  • Stop smoking


Conclusion 


Gout is an inflammatory condition of joints that occurs due to the build-up of uric acid. Having gout can make you wake up in the middle of the night due to intense pain. You may feel like your big toe is on fire. It may also become unbearable to put a load on it, even of that of the sheet you are wearing. Your joints may become red, hot, and swollen when a gout attack exacerbates.


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