What Is Gout?
Gout is classified as a form of arthritis. Just like arthritis, it has symptoms of joint pains, accompanied by soreness and stiffness in the joint area. Gout also brings on a burning sensation and tenderness to the afflicted areas. Usually, these pains are experiences in the big toes, and that acts as an identifier for gout. The disease can be completely treated.
Gout occurs more in men than in women. It can happen in people of all ages, but it is experienced more in people who have crossed 40 years of age. There are close to 8.3 million people in the US who suffer from gout, which is approximately 4% of the total population of the country.
This condition is marked by several risk factors. It is experienced more by people who consume too much alcohol or meat, and in people who are overweight.
How Does Gout Occur?
The root cause of gout is the presence of uric acid crystals accumulated in the joint area. Uric acid is one of the byproducts of the human body that is voided via urine. If this elimination does not occur, then the uric acid crystals remain dissolved in the blood. Subsequently, they reach the join areas and accumulate there. Since they are solid crystals, they lead to intense pains whenever the joints are moved. This condition leads to gout.
There are two reasons why uric acid might not be getting eliminated from your bloodstream.
- Your body might have a high composition of uric acid, which is introduced in the body with some of the foods you eat.
- Your kidneys might not be functioning properly and hence are unable to remove the uric acid crystals from the blood.
The crystals of uric acid can be quite painful. Crystallography shows that they have a needle-shaped structure. The sharp ends pierce into the bones at the articulation of the joints. Apart from the severe pain, it can also lead to weakness of the muscles and ligaments that connect the muscles to the bones.
What Are the Risk Factors?
Gout is the accumulation of excessive uric acid crystals from the blood into the joint areas. There are several risk factors that can promote this:-
- People who eat excessive meats, especially organ meats, steaks, and seafood. Such foods contain a high level of purines that can break down into uric acid. These then get accumulated in the joints.
- People who consume alcohol. Alcohol can stimulate the formation of uric acid in the blood as well. Especially beer should be avoided. Another major culprit is artificially sweetened drinks, especially those that contain fructose as an additive.
- People who are overweight. Weight management issues can lead to the accumulation of uric acid in the joints.
- Men are more at risk than women in developing gout.
- The chances of getting gout increase almost three times after the age of 40 years.
- Certain medical conditions can increase the vulnerability of gout. The medical conditions include high blood pressure, kidney disorders, heart diseases, metabolic disorders, and diabetes.
- Gout is also hereditary. If you have a family history of the condition, then you stand at a higher risk.
What Are the Symptoms of Gout?
The symptoms of gout are mostly nocturnal, i.e. they aggravate at night. The following are some of the things that most people experience:-
- There is a severe pain in the joints area. It usually begins as a sharp pain in the big toe, but then it can aggravate and affect the whole foot. It may spread to the ankles, knees, and even the joints of the upper limbs. The pain begins without warning and is most intense when it starts out.
- When the pain begins, it can last for up to 12 hours in the first episode. After that, the pain dulls down, but it can leave behind a lingering feeling that does not subside soon.
- More joints are affected after the first episode.
- The joints are swollen or red, and they are sore to touch.
- The joints may feel warm.
- Due to the pains, the joints cannot be moved fully. If they are tried to be moved, they can lead to much sharper pains.
Why Must You Take Care of Gout as Soon as Possible?
At the earliest symptom of gout, you should get it checked. If it is allowed to persist, then it can get complicated into chronic issues.
- Gout can become recurrent. In very few people, it is only a onetime thing. But in most people who suffer from gout, it can recur, often in the same joint area. When that happens, it can also lead to the eventual destruction of the joint.
- Tophus is an advanced complication of gout. Tophus is the name given to uric acid nodules that might form under the skin. These can be troublesome in case of gout attacks.
- The uric acid crystals might deposit in the kidneys and form kidney stones.
How to Prevent the Onset of Gout?
There are some ways in which you can keep yourself healthy:-
- Do not consume meat excessively, especially seafood, beef, and organ meats. Have a balanced meal that has all nutrients in the right proportion.
- Do not consume alcohol excessively.
- Engage yourself in physical activity. This helps you to keep your body mass index in check.
- Have a lot of fluids. This helps in the normal functioning of the kidneys and keeps them healthy.
Remember that gout is a preventable and treatable condition. A healthy lifestyle will help you keep it at bay, but if you happen to get it, then you need not worry either because it is treatable. Start with a treatment therapy soon. There are also several herbal remedies that have remarkable benefits on gout. You might take a look at a few of them to stop the gout attacks from recurring, and also to improve the health of your joint areas. Healthy food and supplementation can help you combat this debilitating condition.