Gout is actually a form of arthritis, and anyone can get it.
It’s due to an accumulation of urea crystals in the joint. Normally the kidneys filter uric acid out of the blood but if the body is producing too much then crystals can form in the blood and settle around a joint causing pain and swelling.
It presents as severe and sudden swelling in the joints, often at night with or without a high temperature.
The worst of the pain will be within 4-12 hours after which there is a lingering level of discomfort. Bouts can last a week before subsiding.
Usually, it appears in the knee or big toes, but ankle, wrist, fingers, and elbow can also be affected. It’s so painful that even a sheet touching an afflicted toe can be unbearable.
It presents with hot, red swollen skin around those joints and the inflammation with decrease the range of movement in the affected joint.
Recurrence is common.
Chronic recurrence can cause deposits, small white lumps, to accumulate under your skin, usually on the backs of your ankles, fingers, or elbows. They are urate crystals are called tophi and can be painful.
Why do some people get it?
- Diets that have high levels of red meat, fatty poultry, liver, shellfish (these contain purines and can cause flare-ups) or alcohol, particularly beer.
- Being over-weight can cause you to produce more uric acid.
- High blood pressure (untreated), diabetes and kidney and heart disease can increase occurrence.
- Some medications can increase uric acid in the blood – aspirin, beta blockers, anti-rejection drugs, some high blood pressure medicines such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and diuretics.
- Men 30-50, males have a naturally higher levels of uric acid and post-menopausal women, which is when uric acid levels increase.
- Family history of the condition.
- Hypothyroidism (under active thyroid).
- Recent trauma, surgery and injury can trigger it.
What should you do?
Go see a doctor!
If left untreated, it can cause permanent damage to the joint. It can also lead to kidney stones.
Your GP will prescribe strong anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen and/or prednisone, a steroid. Colchicine or allopurinol, a xanthine oxidase inhibitor, will reduce uric acid in the blood.
Keep hydrated, maintain a healthy diet and weight.