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Gout is a particular type of arthritis (inflammation of a joint) and is one of the most common forms, particularly among men. An attack of gout usually happens at night or early morning. It can strike very quickly and severely and without warning (acute gout).
The most common place to get gout is the big toe. It may also affect one or more joints of the hand, knees, ankles and feet. Without treatment, an attack of gout may go away within a week or so. However as time goes by continuing to ignore gout attacks can result in them happening more frequently and becoming more severe. Eventually, untreated gout leads to permanent damage to your joints and potential kidney damage.
Gout is a life long condition that requires long term management. It can be controlled by eating the right diet and if needed taking medication. Your doctor, pharmacist and dietician can help you understand and manage your gout.
Who gets Gout?
Gout is common in the United Kingdom. Middle aged men tend to get it, and women after menopause, also younger people with a strong family history of gout.
What Causes Gout?
Gout is caused by a substance called uric acid. Uric acid is a chemical naturally made in our bodies after we digest the protein in the foods that we eat. If our kidneys do not remove enough of the uric acid, or if too much uric acid is produced, then uric acid levels begin to build up in the body.
In people who get Gout, uric acid builds up over many years to levels higher than normal. This may lead to uric acid crystals forming in the joints. These crystals can cause inflammation of the joints, leading to an attack of gout (acute gout).
What are the Symptoms of Gout?
The primary symptom of gout is severe pain in the affected joint. Symptoms include redness, tenderness, warmth and swelling. Gout may also be accompanied by a fever.
People who have gout over a long period may develop small depositis of uric crystals in the earlobes and soft tissue in the hands where they can cause small lumps known as tophi. There is also the possibility of developing kidney stones composed of uric acid.
How is Gout Treated?
Gout can be successfully managed with lifestyle and diet changes as well as medication. For acute attacks of gout painkillers and anti-inflammatory medicines, cochicine, corticosteroid injections. For recurrant gout; drugs that reduce uric acid levels as well as nutritional therapy.
Gout Self Help
If you have gout it is important to make the following changes to your diet.