Gout: The 13 most frequently asked questions (episode 2)

Gout Article Contributed by: Rachana Arya


Gout has always had a bad rap. It has long been associated with obese men, wasteful living and over-indulgence of food and alcohol. However, this is simply not true. Not a self-inflicted disease, gout can affect almost anyone and is more common than you might think. Gout makes up approximately 0.12 to 0.19% of the population.

Let’s examine what to expect with the disease and how you can keep gout from getting worse in the first place.

FAQ # 1: What is Gout?

Gout is an arthritic disease that causes significant pain, swelling, redness, warmth, and tenderness in the joints caused by the build-up of uric acid crystals in the joints.

FAQ # 2: Is Gout an Autoimmune Disease?

Gout is an inflammatory disease. It is not an autoimmune disease

FAQ # 3: Which parts of the body are affected by gout?

Gout most commonly affects the following organs:

    • Big toe joint
    • foot
    • ankle
    • knee
    • hands
    • Wrists

FAQ # 4: What causes gout?

Gout occurs when uric acid builds up in the body and forms needle-like crystals in the joints. The factors that can trigger an episode of gout can be any of the following:

    • The kidneys are ineffective at getting rid of uric acid
    • The body has difficulty breaking down protein substances (purines) that occur naturally in foods
    • The body produces too much uric acid
    • Too much of certain foods like salmon, liver, etc.
    • Drink too much alcohol, especially beer
    • Drink too many beverages sweetened with fructose

FAQ # 5: How common are gout attacks?

Gout attacks come on very suddenly and can last for days or weeks. These flare-ups are followed by long periods of symptom-free remission – weeks, months, or years – before another flare-up occurs.

FAQ # 6: Who is prone to gout?

Although gout can affect people of all ages, it mainly occurs in middle-aged men – usually between the ages of 30 and 50 – largely because women tend to have lower uric acid levels. However, after menopause, women become more vulnerable as their uric acid levels approach that of men. Gout is more common in people who are overweight and consume foods rich in purine (especially meat and seafood).

FAQ # 7: What diseases can gout cause?

Certain conditions that can increase the levels of uric acid in your body and put you at greater risk of gout include:

FAQ # 8: Is Gout Genetic?

In some families, inherited factors play a role in a person’s risk of developing gout. If a parent or other family member has been diagnosed with gout, they are more likely to develop the disease.

FAQ No. 9: What if gout goes untreated?

Research has clearly shown that if left untreated, it can have long-term consequences for other organs as well, including:

    • Tophi (soft tissue swelling caused by deposits of uric acid crystals) can form on toes, fingers, hands or elbows.
    • Kidney stones and in some cases it can lead to chronic kidney failure
    • Erosion and destruction of a joint
    • Limited mobility

FAQ No. 10: Can Gout Be Prevented?

There is no surefire way to prevent gout. However, if diagnosed early, it can prevent the debilitating effects of gout and prevent the disease from progressing. Some interventions include:

    • Medication
    • Right nutrition
    • Weight loss
    • Limit or avoid alcohol
    • Drink a lot

FAQ # 11: How is gout diagnosed?

Gout is diagnosed based on personal and family history, as well as a medical examination. The uric acid level is determined by blood tests. X-rays can be used to check for abnormal bone and joint changes. The doctor can also check the synovial fluid for uric acid crystals.

FAQ # 12: How can gout be treated successfully?

Early diagnosis and treatment is key to successfully treating gout. Managing gout pain successfully requires self-management skills. It is important that patients know their illness and participate in their own care. According to studies, patients who participate in self-care report less pain and enjoy a better quality of life.

FAQ # 13: What are the self-management techniques for treating gout?

Self-management techniques include:

    • Awareness and education
    • Exercise programs
    • Relaxation and stress management
    • Eat balanced meals
    • Keeping the right weight

Final thoughts

The inflammation and swelling – in other words, a gout attack or flare-up – is certainly a painful experience. Because it has the same destructive and disabling potential as rheumatoid arthritis, it is important for anyone struggling with the condition to seek treatment for this severe inflammatory condition.

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Reference: blog.healthians.com


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