Most of us have heard of gout or have had a friend or family member complain about it. However, do we really know what gout is, what causes it and how it can be treated? Let’s take a look at the main causes, symptoms and treatment of this condition.
Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis. A gout attack or acute gout occurs when levels of uric acid in the blood increases. The body produces uric acid when it breaks down purines. These are substances which are found naturally in the body, but can also include foods such as steak, seafood and any organ meat. Other substances that can increase levels of uric acid include alcohol such as beer and beverages which contain fructose.
Normally uric acid dissolves in the blood and passes through the kidneys into the urine, however, sometimes the body produces too much uric acid or the kidneys excrete too little uric acid and this creates a build-up. This causes sharp and needle-like urate crystals to form in a joint or surrounding tissue and it is this which causes the swelling and pain.
Gout attacks occur without prior warning and mostly at night. There are various symptoms to look out for such as:
You are more likely to suffer from gout if you have high levels of uric acid in your body. Factors which can increase these levels of uric acid include:
Gout which is left untreated can worsen and can cause joint damage in the future. There are various medications that the doctor can prescribe to help treat the symptoms of gout and prevent future attacks. Please consult a doctor if you or anyone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms.