What Causes Gout?

Gout is caused because of the accumulation of small urate crystals around the joints. It is a chronic health condition that causes intense pain, swelling, inflammation, redness, and tenderness in the joints. The condition affects the person’s ability to move the joint.

Gout is caused when the levels of uric acid, which is generally a waste product, rise to very high levels within the blood. Uric acid is naturally metabolized in the body, and it is thrown out from the body as it is a waste. It gets created by breaking down purine, which is a natural substance found in the body. Some foods and drinks also contain purine.

The rise in the levels of purine happens as you consume certain foods that are laden with purine. Certain types of foods and drinks have higher concentrations of purine, excessive consumption of such foods can increase the purine intake, which leads to its breakdown, thereby increasing the levels of uric acid in the body.

The body may fail to get rid of uric acid because of its excessive concentration. As a result, the atoms of uric acid bind together and form sharp crystals. These crystals thus formed get accumulated around the joints and form gout.

Symptoms of gout

The person with gout experiences several symptoms, which may be strong indicators that they have developed the condition. The symptoms are as follows:

  • Intense joint pain – The gout most commonly occurs on the big toe, knees, ankles, wrists, elbows, and fingers. The pain might come and go. It might cause intense pain for several hours.
  • Swollen joints – The joint swells up and causes pain.
  • Tender and sensitive joints – Due to swelling, the joint may appear red.
  • Inflammation and discomfort – The swollenarea becomes warm due to inflammation, and it increases discomfort.
  • Difficultymoving – The movements get restricted because of the swelling and pain.

The person might not be able to move too much because of the pain and swelling. The symptoms might be felt intensely during the nighttime. Their movements get restricted as a result. To ease the symptoms, one must get early treatment. Timely treatment will prevent its progression, alleviate the symptoms, and reduce the risk of complications.

Who is more likely to develop gout?

According to the National Institutes of Health, the occurrence of this condition is more common in men than in women. It might develop mostly during the middle age. The symptoms of this condition will be more intense and severe if it happens at a young age. Women do not usually develop health issues before the menopause. Their risk of developing the condition might increase after menopause.

Ways to reduce the risk of gout

  • Limit the consumption of certain foods – Certain foods are rich sources of purine. Excessive consumption of purine-rich foods increases the concentration of uric acid in the blood because purine gets metabolized and converted into uric acid. A rise in the levels of uric acid leads to its crystallization, resulting in gout formation. Therefore, foods that contain high concentrations of purine must be eaten in moderation.
  • Switch to healthy drinks – Many fructose-based drinks contain high amounts of purines. Also, some types of alcoholic beverages have higher levels of purine, which is why one must limit their alcohol intake or switch to some other type that contains low amounts of purine.
  • Lose some weight – Obese and overweight individuals have higher amounts of uric acid in their bodies compared to others. They are highly susceptible to developing gout. This is why it is necessary for such individuals to lose excess weight. This will reduce their risk of developing the condition.
  • Physical activity is necessary – Exercising regularly will be beneficial for overall health. It reduces the frequency of gout flares and inflammation. The symptoms also get alleviated to a great extent with regular exercise.

Is treatment necessary?

Gout is a chronic health condition that requires treatment. If the treatment is not given on time, the condition will exacerbate, and the frequency of gout flares will increase. This increases the risk of gout complications which include joint damage, kidney damage, and bone loss.

The treatment will include two types of medications. The first type of medication will reduce the frequency of gout flares,and the intensity of pain, inflammation, and swelling, while the other type will work on preventing the risk of complications. The medications will eliminate excessuric acid from the body and prevent disease progression.

The lowdown

The rise in the level of uric acid in the body causes the crystallization of its atoms. These crystals have sharp edges and as they flow throughout the bloodstream, they aggregate around the joints. Too much accumulation of these uric acid crystals around the joint causes pain, swelling, redness, and inflammation in the joints. If it is left untreated, the condition worsens and potentiates the risk of complications.

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