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Gout: What Causes It, The Symptoms, And How To Treat It
If you have ever experienced severe pain in the joint of your big toe, you may want to consult a doctor to make sure you do not have gout. More than half of the cases of gout occur in the big toe, but it can show up in your wrist, knee, elbow, in the foot, and in the fingertips. Gout is actually the most common type of arthritis and causes inflammation, redness, severe pain, and swelling of the joints.
What exactly causes gout?
Gout is the result of an abundance of uric acid in your joints. These microscopic crystals gather in the joint around the soft tissue area. It is an extremely painful incidence and can result in heat, redness, and severe swelling.
Many foods contain a chemical compound known as purines, which are the background for uric acid. The uric acid enters the bloodstream and is then filtered out by the kidneys and passed out of the body through your stool by 30 percent or in your urine by 70 percent.
If you end up with too much uric acid, it could crystalize, and the result is called hyperuricemia. Just about 90 percent of the people who have gout are unable to deal with the uric acids. If you leave your gout alone, it will probably take care of itself in a few days or even a couple of weeks. But make sure you have your gout diagnosed right away. If it does not go away in time or it keeps coming back, you could end up damaging your joint permanently and end up with a compromised range of motion.
What are the risk factors for getting gout?
Here are some things that could increase your chances of getting gout:
- Family history – If your genetics include gout, you have a better chance of getting it yourself.
- Your age and gender – Men or women can get gout but men have higher levels of uric acid in earlier in life. However, women catch up after they go through menopause.
- Medications – Drugs that have salicylate or diuretics have a higher chance of creating gout through their increased uric acid.
- Obesity – If you are overweight, your chances of creating gout in your body are much higher because there are greater amounts of body fat.
- Additional problems – If you have kidney issues, diabetes, hypothyroidism, or high blood pressure, you have a higher chance of developing gout.
Check the following symptoms to determine if you may have gout:
- Extreme pain. One of the most identifiable symptoms is the extreme pain that gout brings on. It has been likened to being stabbed with two little knives. With gout, you are not able to put your weight on the knee or foot that has gout.
- Swelling. When you have gout the crystals from the uric acid create a great deal of inflammation and irritation which results in swollen joints.
- Stiffness. The stiffness from having gout is a result of the combination of the pain and the swelling.
- Redness. The inflammation and irritation from having gout causes a redness around the infected area.
- Fever. With an inflammation of this magnitude, you may find yourself suffering from a fever as well because of your compromised immune system.
- Tophi. If you have had gout many times and it keeps recurring, you may find that the uric acid crystals have developed into tophi, which are tiny white chunks that you can see through your skin.
- Strikes at night. It was discovered that many cases of gout show up at night because the temperature of the body is lower. This causes the crystals from the uric acid to take over the feet and other joints.
- Only affects one joint. While around 90 percent of the cases of gout occur on only one joint, more than half of them affect the big toe.
Begin healing yourself from gout with:
- Plenty of rest;
- Elevation of the leg;
- Ice on the spot.
Here are some things you can do to reduce additional episodes in the future:
1. Lose weight
If you want to cut down on your chances of getting gout, you should get yourself on a healthy diet and lose your excess weight. Don’t commit to a crash diet, because that could bring on more gout.
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2. Cut down on alcohol
Make sure you eliminate beer and wine from your diet, as they are very high in purine content and will just contribute to your bouts of gout. White wine is okay as long as you limit it to just a glass or two.
3. Eat a diet low in purines
If you have had more than one episode of gout, make sure you eat a healthy diet that is low in purines. The food groups that contain high levels of purine include: meat (liver, kidney and sweetbreads), seafood (especially – anchovies, herring, sardines, mussels, scallops, trout, haddock, mackerel and tuna), lentils, specific vegetables, and dried beans. Foods you can enjoy that are lower in purines are eggs, complex carbohydrates, fruits, and low-fat dairy.
4. Drink lots of water
Drinking plenty of water is one of the best things you can do to prevent future incidents of gout. When you increase your water intake, your kidneys are better able to keep the uric acid out of your body by continually flushing out your system.
5. Take your prescriptions
If you have suffered from gout on more than one occasions, your doctor may have prescribed certain medications to help lower your uric acid production. Make sure that you consult your doctor before taking any medication.