What is Gout? Gout is an inflammatory condition characterized by attacks of arthritis, in which joints become swollen, tender, painful, and often red. Most commonly, gout attacks the joint of the big toe. When this happens, gout is also referred to as “podagra”. In addition to pain and swelling in the joints, gout can also present with symptoms such as kidney stones, tophi, urate nephropathy, fatigue, and high fever. Longer-term sufferers of gout may also experience bone erosions from the persistent inflammation at joints. Gout normally begins over a 2-4 hour time period, and usually sets in during the night, due to lower body temperature.
The painful symptoms of gout are caused by the buildup of uric acid in the blood. The uric acid eventually crystallizes, and deposits itself in the body – in joints, tendons, and tissues. Pain, swelling and inflammation then begin to surround these areas of crystal deposits, and cause the symptoms of gout.
Gout can be treated with steroids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – known as NSAIDs, and colchine. In certain patients, these treatments for gout can relieve the signs and symptoms. Allopurinol and probenecid are also used to treat long-term sufferers of gout. All of these treatments can provide gout relief; however do have varying side effects. If you’re experiencing symptoms of gout, check with your doctor to see if any of these treatment options might provide you with some relief.
The most common cause of gout is lifestyle related. Specifically, gout can be caused by diet. If you’re experiencing gout symptoms, or think you may be at risk, it’s important to modify your diet and the foods you eat accordingly. Gout is often referred to as “the disease of kings”, or “rich man’s disease”, because the richer the diet, the more likely one is to develop gout.
Hyperuricemia is the underlying cause of gout. Roughly 10% of individuals with experience Hyperuricemia at some point in their lives. The degree to which Hyperuricemia exists is what determines risk for gout. Dietary causes of Hyperuricemia and gout are a high consumption of alcohol, fructose, sweetened drinks, meats and seafood. The consumption of coffee, vitamin C and dairy appear to decrease the risk of gout.
Since diet plays a role in gout, eating foods and meals high in dairy and Vitamin C can be healthy. And avoiding eating too much meat, too much fat, too much sugar, too much alcohol and too many artificial sweeteners is a good idea. Try healthy recipes that involve lots of vegetables, and little fat and sugar. Changing your diet, and the foods you eat can have a big impact on your chances of getting gout, and your ability to manage and treat gout symptoms.