How Do You Get Gout?

Gout is a chronic health condition,which affects the joints. The person with gout experiences intense pain, swelling, inflammation, and redness in their joint. The affected area becomes tender and highly sensitive. The person’s ability to move the joint where the gout has occurred will be affected.

This happens when the levels of uric acid in the body rise to very high levels. Uric acid is naturally present in the body. Your body produces it by breaking down purine, which is a substance that is also naturally present in the body in some amounts. When purine levels rise, corresponding to it, the levels of uric acid also spike.

The increase in purine levels happens as you consume certain foods that are rich sources of purine. Naturally, purine exists in the body, but purine-rich foods cause the overload of it. This makes the body metabolize it, which leads to a rise in the concentration of uric acid in the blood.

The excess of uric acid then forms into small crystals. This happens as the atoms bind together and form a cluster and it further takes the form of sharp crystals that usually aggregate around the joints. The person develops gout, as the crystallized particles of uric acid accumulate around the joints.

How does gout affect a person?

The person experiences several symptoms of it. The symptoms may be mild in the beginning, but if the person fails to get the treatment and leaves the condition untreated, then the symptoms worsen. Some obvious symptoms of gout are as follows:

  • Intense pain in the joint.
  • Swelling and redness.
  • Inflammation and discomfort.
  • Inability to move.

The pain occurs in the knees, ankles, elbows, fingers, and wrists. Most commonly, the big toes get affected by the condition. It becomes swollen and turns red and tender. It causes difficulties while walking. The swelling happens mostly during the night while the person is asleep. It causes a burning sensation, and the toe feels warm as a result.

This restricts the movement of the body part where the crystals are accumulated. The symptoms might come and go. They may become severe and troublesome. It can happen suddenly, but it has been observed that gout flares usually occur during the nighttime.

If the condition is not treated, then the gout flares may happen frequently. The symptoms will exacerbate too quickly, and its progression might happen rapidly. It can increase the risk of complications.

Diagnosis for gout

For the diagnostic evaluation and confirmation, the healthcare provider will order several tests, which will allow them to identify the root cause of the joint pain and rule out the appropriate treatment:

  • Blood sample tests – Blood samples will be collected and sent to the lab to check the levels of uric acid in them. Sometimes normal people may have high amounts of uric acid but that does not mean that they have gout. But those affected by this condition will definitely have a high concentration of uric acid in their blood.
  • Joint fluid tests – The healthcare professional will collect a fluid sample from the joint. They will insert a needle inside the joint and take some fluid out. The sample thus collected will be then checked under the microscope to detect the presence of uric acid crystals.
  • X-ray imaging – This test will be helpful in identifying the root cause of joint inflammation.
  • Ultrasound – This test is done using a sound wave technique that detects the presence of crystals around the joints.
  • Dual-energy computerized tomography (DECT) – This test scans the images of the affected joint from various angles and generates clear pictures.

Treatment for gout

Diagnostic tests will reveal the cause of joint pain and inflammation. If it is confirmed that the person is diagnosed with gout, the healthcare provider will prescribe a combination of medications, which will alleviate the pain and inflammation, prevent the progression of the condition, and reduce the risk of health complications due to it.

The type of medications prescribed will depend on the severity and how often the gout attacks happen. According to the Mayo Clinic website, the healthcare provider will prescribe three types of medications to reduce the frequency of gout flares and gout attacks. These medications are given below:

  1. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – These include prescription and non-prescription (over-the-counter) medications. They might cause some side effects. One must get to know about the side effects of these medications by asking their healthcare provider.
  2. Colchicine – These medications are helpful for alleviating pain and inflammation. They might as well give rise to several side effects that can be of the mild category. One might experience nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  3. Corticosteroids – These medications are available in the form of pills and injections. They reduce the pain and inflammation in the joint. The effects of this medicine might cause fluctuations in blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

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