The Ultimate Guide to Understanding What Gout Is (and Isn’t)


Where Can You Get Gout?

People who have gout typically experience pain, swelling, and redness in the feet, particularly the joint behind the big toe. This is the most common joint involved; however, gout symptoms can also manifest in the wrists, fingers, ankles, knees, heels, elbows, or nearly any joint in the body.

10 percent of sufferers get theirs on the wrist and elbow while 11 percent experience an attack in more than one area. Over time, the symptoms can manifest on multiple joints which makes immediate treatment very necessary.

Areas that are affected by tophi are also signs of gout. It commonly appears in the elbows, upper ear cartilage, and on the surface of the joints. Tophi is an indication that the body is overloaded with uric acid.

Having kidney stones are also an indication of gout since uric acid crystals could have built up in the kidney.

Who Gets Gout?

Gout is more prevalent in men than in women, particularly those between ages 40 and 50. For women, this is likely to happen after menopause.

People with hyperuricemia have a chance of developing gout later on, but it’s also common for people with this condition to never develop gout.

If your family has a history of gout, you’re also more likely to have gout. People who have the following conditions or habits are also at risk for developing gout:

  • Obesity
  • Sleep apnea
  • Thyroid disease
  • Hypertension
  • Chronic decreased kidney function
  • Degenerative arthritis
  • Drinking alcohol excessively
  • Eating high-purine foods
  • Taking diuretics (water pills) and cyclosporine
  • Treatments for certain types of cancer

Can You Prevent Gout?

One of the risk factors for gout is genetic, so if you have a history of it in your family, you may not be able to prevent it.

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Obesity, diet, and alcohol habits, however, are controllable. If you maintain a healthy weight, follow a healthy diet, and minimize alcohol consumption, you may lessen your chances of developing gout.

The best way to deal with the condition is by minimizing your risk of gout flares. Every patient is different therefore treatment is individualized. By taking your prescribed medicine consistently and modifying your diet, you can prevent gout attacks from happening.

Avoiding purine-rich foods is another way to prevent gout. Purines are proteins break down in the body into uric acid contributing to the buildup. The only problem is that purine can be found even in most of the healthy foods so it can be quite tricky to follow a low-purine diet.

One of the biggest culprits for gout attacks is alcohol, especially beer, which has high-purine content. Most people’s social lives revolve around drinking so it can be quite hard to quit this.

If you must drink, opt for wine instead as it does not appear to increase your risk of gout. If you want beer, choose a light beer or locally brewed ones instead of the mainstream beers since those tend to contain GMO ingredients in them.

Traditional Treatment for Gout

Treatment for gout generally serves three purposes: provide immediate relief, lower uric acid, and prevent future gout attacks.

Here we will discuss the medical, natural, and alternative treatments that help you achieve these three.

Medical

Colchicine, corticosteroids, and NSAIDs are medicines that can help lessen pain and inflammation during a gout attack.

NSAIDs

Depending on the level of gout symptoms you are experiencing, you may receive a low or high prescription dose of NSAIDs.

Be careful though as this drug can have side effects including as nausea, diarrhea, and stomach ulcer. The worst side effect is damage to your kidney and liver.

Your doctor may prescribe you the following NSAIDs: aspirin, ibuprofen, indomethacin, celecoxib, ketoprofen, or naproxen.

Colchicine

Colchicine is the drug commonly prescribed to gout sufferers as it helps stop the uric acid forming into urate crystals.

It’s often taken during a gout attack to help lessen the pain and swelling. In some cases, colchicine is taken to prevent future gout attacks from occurring.

Just like NSAIDs, colchicine has its side effects like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. For people who can’t tolerate NSAIDs, colchicine is the next best medicine to take.

Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are also used to reduce inflammation during a gout attack. They can be consumed orally or injected into the affected joint. However, it has some serious side effects which can impact your health in the long run.

Some conditions associated with prolonged use of corticosteroids include osteoporosis, high blood, cataracts, diabetes, higher risk of infection, and bone tissue death in the hip and shoulder joints.

This medication is the last option if your body cannot tolerate both colchicine and NSAIDs.

Allopurinol or Febuxostat

Xanthine oxidase inhibitors like allopurinol and febuxostat are taken regularly to help regulate the production of uric acid in the body, thus avoiding gout attacks.

The saying “it gets worse before it gets better” applies to this drug in the sense that your gout attacks will become more frequent in the beginning and will lessen over time. This is because your uric acid levels rise slightly before it falls back to normal.

It is for this reason that colchicine is prescribed together with allopurinol to help you cope with the attacks as your uric acid levels normalize. It takes about 2 to 3 months before the drug becomes effective.

Probenecid

Probenecid is a medicine that helps the kidneys excrete uric acid from the blood, thus preventing future gout attacks from happening. Like any drug, probenecid has its side effects including an upset stomach, rashes, and kidney stones.

Next page: natural treatment for gout, and alternative therapies for gout symptoms. 

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