What Is Gout?

Gout is a chronic health condition, which is quite common. It is a complex form of arthritis that is characterized by sudden pain, swelling, redness, and feeling of tenderness in the joints. It might occur suddenly and might come and go. It is an incurable condition, but it can be managed very well, and its symptoms can be alleviated with treatment and lifestyle changes.

What causes gout?

Your body produces uric acid from purines, which are substances that are naturally present within the body.Certain foods contain purines, which increases the levels of purines in the body. This purine gets broken down and converted into uric acid. The rise in levels of uric acid in the blood leads to it scrystallization and accumulation around the joints.

Your kidneys can eliminate excess uric acid from the body. It filters out the waste and leads to its excretion. However, sometimes the sudden spike in the levels of uric acid in an excessive amount can cause its solidification into sharp crystals, these crystals further get lodged and aggregated around the joints and cause pain, swelling, and inflammation.

Symptoms of gout

According to the Mayo Clinic website, the symptoms of gout might arise most probably during the nighttime. The symptoms of gout are as follows:

  • Joint pain – The accumulation of sharp crystals formed from uric acid solidification causes pain, swelling, and inflammation in the joints. It usually affects the big toe, and as a result, the toe swells up and becomes highly sensitive and tender. The pain can rise suddenly and be alleviated after some time. The condition mostly affects the knees, elbows, ankles, fingers, and wrists.
  • Inflammation – The joints become inflamed, red, and tender. It can also cause burning pain in the affected area.
  • Discomfort – When the pain subsides, the effects of it persist in the form of discomfort. Even if the pain and swelling have gone or reduced, the person continues to experience discomfort for a few days after severe pain.
  • Lack of movement – The pain in the joints makes it difficult for the person to walk.

Factors that potentiate the risk of gout

  1. Diet – Certain types of foods can increase the risk of gout, as they are laden with high levels of purines, which get converted into uric acid within the body and develop into crystals that accumulate around the joints. It is necessary to either avoid or limit the consumption of foods that are loaded with purines. One must increase their intake of foods that contain low amounts of purines, for example, fruits, vegetables, nuts, low-fat dairy products, grains, legumes, and coffee.
  2. Genetics – A condition like gout can run in the family. If any close member of your family has gout, then you are more likely to develop the condition. This happens due to the passing of the same genes from parents to offspring.
  3. Overweight – The body of overweight individuals produces more uric acid than any average individual. Their kidneys fail to eliminate excess uric acid from the body, which is why the levels of uric acid rise in the body and cause gout flares. Such individuals experience severe symptoms of gout, as the pressure exerted on their joints is high because of excess weight.
  4. Chronic health conditions – Certain types of chronic medical conditions can exacerbate the symptoms of gout. This happens mostly in the case of people who do not get treatment for their chronic health conditions, which can affect the function of their vital organs such as the heart, kidneys, etc. If the kidney function gets affected, the removal of waste will not happen effectively.
  5. Medications – Some types of medications used for controlling blood pressure can spike the uric acid levels in the body. This can spur gout glares. So, if you are taking medications for hypertension, you must talk to your doctor and discuss your concerns regarding medicine-induced gout.
  6. Surgery or trauma – Those who had a recent surgery are highly susceptible to gout attack.

The right time to see the doctor

You must see your doctor immediately if you have experience dintense pain in your joints out of the blue. If the condition is ignored and left untreated, it might progress and cause major damage to the joints. You should see your doctor if you have developed pain, swelling, tenderness, and inflammation around your joints. Early diagnosis and treatment will prevent its progression and joint damage.

Diagnostic evaluation of gout

For confirmation, the doctor will order several tests, which are given below:

  • Blood sample tests – This is done to check the uric acid levels in the blood.
  • Joint fluid tests – The fluid accumulated in the joints will be taken out and checked under the microscope to detect the uric acid crystals.
  • X-ray imaging – This will reveal the root cause of joint inflammation.
  • Ultrasound – This uses a sound wave technique to detect the presence of crystals in the joints.
  • Dual-energy computerized tomography (DECT) – This test generates images of the affected joint from different angles.

Based on the diagnostic tests, your doctor will prescribe a combination of medications to reduce the pain, inflammation, and swelling, and prevent the progression of the condition.


Leave a Reply

Add to cart