"Unbearable pain", "pain that's worse than a broken bone", "the most painful pain", these are some of the words that people with gout use when asked about it. Words such as "burning", "excruciating", and "boiling" are said to be the words that best describe gout pain. But what exactly is "Gout"?
What is Gout?
Gout is a form of arthritis caused by too much uric acid build up in the body. It can affect anyone, but it's most common in men 40-50 years old and above.
Most people experience first attack of gout in the big toe. The toe can be very painful and swollen, sore, or warm, usually wakes the person from sleep. Gout attack may also include:
- sharp pain
- stiffness in joints
Gout attack don't just affect the big toe, it can also affect ankles, heels, insteps, knees, elbows, wrists, and fingers. The attacks can last for a few days, or even weeks, before the pain lapses.
What Causes Gout?
Too much uric acid in the blood causes gout. Having very high level of uric acid in the blood may form hard crystals in the joints, which can trigger a gout attack. You're more likely get a chance of having gout if you:
- Drink too much alcohol
- Are Obese/Overweight
- Eat too much fish and meat with purines
- Take some medications such as diuretics drugs (to treat high blood pressure)
- Have a family member with gout
- Have an enzyme defect, making it hard for your body to break down purines
How is it Diagnosed?
To diagnose gout, your physician may ask about the symptoms your experiencing, your family's medical history of gout, and your lifestyle (alcohol intake, diet, maintenance medicine, etc).
Your physician will also perform a physical exam, may take a sample fluid from your joint to check for uric acid crystals, and may do a blood test to measure the amount of uric acid in your blood.
How Gout is Treated?
To treat a gout attack, it's important to reduce the inflammation very quickly to relieve pain and end the attack much sooner. Your physician may give you medications such as:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Corticosteroid (i.e. prednisone)
- Colchicine (to be taken within the first 12 hours of gout attack)
You may also want to take natural treatment to control gout attack if you're concerned about the side-effects of conventional medicines, or apply an ice (during an attack) to help ease the inflammation in addition to medicine you prefer.
What You Can Do
To stay healthy and to prevent future attacks, it's advisable that you follow your physician and take your medicines as directed. You must also be honest with your physician including telling about your lifestyle (drinking alcohol) and all the medications and vitamins that you take. You may also want to plan a follow up visits with your physician, eat a balanced healthy diet (avoiding food high in purines), maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising regularly, and drinking moderately.
note: extreme weight loss may also increase uric acid level in the blood; lose weight safely.