Gout is a type of arthritis that is caused by the formation of uric acid crystals in one or more joints. Uric acid forms when the body breaks down purines, which are normally dissolved by the body and pass through the kidneys into the urine. With people who have gout the uric acid builds up and then forms sharp crystals in the joint spaces, which causes pain and swelling.
Image Source: http://www.gout.com/what-is-gout#/causes-triggers
Eating foods that are rich in purines may increase the risk of getting gout. These are foods such as salmon, organ meats, sardines, asparagus, mushrooms, and herring.
People are more likely to develop gout if they:
- are overweight
- drink excessive amounts of alcohol
- have high high cholesterol
- have diabetes
- have high blood pressure
Men develop gout more often than women. However, women are more likely to develop gout after menopause. Gout also tends to be hereditary.
Some medications also may cause gout. These include:
- Certain diuretics (water pills)
- Niacin (B complex vitamins)
- Low dose aspirin
- Some drugs used to treat cancer
The symptoms of gout may be sudden and usually start at night , often in the big toe joint. It can also occur in the joints of the feet, ankles, knees, hands and wrists. The affected area becomes red, feels hot and aches. The joint also hurts more when touched.
During a gout attack, resting in bed and placing an ice pack on the joint may help to ease the pain. Medicines that reduce inflammation, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, may help the symptoms. While having a gout attack reduce the amount of animal protein you eat and avoid alcohol completely. The sooner you receive treatment, the sooner the pain will go away. With treatment, the gout attack should go away within a few days.
Without treatment, a gout attack can last days or weeks. This could cause more joints to get affected. If you have gout for many years, you can develop tophi. This is uric acid crystals that form lumps under the skin, which could lead to kidney stones or kidney disease. Your doctor can also prescribe medicines to prevent future gout attacks. These medications help flush the uric acid from your joints and reduce swelling.
If you are experiencing any of these painful symptoms, please give our office a call to schedule an appointment, 757-488-3333.
~Keeping you well, Dr. Abdelshaheed