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WHAT IS GOUT?

Gout is a common and inflammatory form of arthritis that in people with high levels of uric acid in the blood. Gout affect around 4% of American adults and is characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, swelling, redness and tenderness in the joints, most commonly involving the joint at the base of the big toe. Have you ever experienced a gout attack but haven’t been able to go to the doctor’s then find doctors online and book a tele-appointment with doctor from the comfort of your own home! Get expert medical advice without having to move a muscle!

An episode of gout pain can occur suddenly, even in the middle of the night with the sensation that your big toe is on fire. The affected joint is hot, swollen and so tender that even the weight of the sheet may seem like a lot of weight at that time.

Signs and symptoms of gout

Gout symptoms may be irregular, but there are ways to manage symptoms and prevent flares.

  • Severe joint pain. The most commonly affected joint is the large joint of your big toe, but it can occur in any joint. Other commonly affected joints include the ankles, knees, elbows, wrists and fingers. The pain is likely to be most intense within the first four to 12 hours after it begins.
  • Discomfort. After the most severe pain subsides, some joint discomfort may last from a few days to a few weeks. Later attacks are likely to last longer and affect more joints.
  • Redness and swelling. The affected joint or joints become swollen, tender, warm and red.
  • Limited range of motion. As gout progresses, you may not be able to move your joints normally.

When should you see a doctor?

If you experience sudden, intense and unbearable pain in a joint, call your doctor.  Untreated gout can lead to worsening pain and progressive joint damage. If you experience joint pain and inflammation along with fever it can be a sign of infection.

Causes of gout

When uric acid levels increase in the blood, urate crystals accumulate in your joint, causing inflammation and intense pain of a gout attack. Uric acid is produced when it breaks down purines — substances that are found naturally in your body. There are certain food items that contain purine as well such as steak, organ meats and seafood. Other foods also promote higher levels of uric acid, such as alcohol, beer, and drinks sweetened with fruit sugar (fructose).

Normally, uric acid is removed from the body through the urine. But sometimes either your body produces too much uric acid or your kidneys excrete too little uric acid. When this happens, uric acid can accumulate in the blood and collect in the tissues/joints in the form of sharp, needle-like urate crystals that cause pain, inflammation and swelling.

Even though the primary cause of gout is hyperuricemia (increased uric acid levels) there are certain risk factors that may increase the risk of developing gout. For instance, you're more likely to develop gout if you have high levels of uric acid in your body. Factors that increase the uric acid level in your body include:

  • Diet. Eating a diet rich in purine-containing foods such as meat and seafood and drinking beverages sweetened with fruit sugar (fructose) increase levels of uric acid, which increase your risk of gout. Alcohol consumption, especially beer, also increases the risk of gout.
  • Obesity. If you're overweight, your body produces more uric acid and your kidneys have a more difficult time excreting the uric acid.
  • Medical conditions. Certain diseases and health conditions increase your risk of developing gout. For instance, untreated or unchecked high blood pressure and chronic conditions such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart and kidney diseases.
  • Medications. The use of thiazide diuretics (used to treat hypertension) and low-dose aspirin can also increase the level of uric acid. People who have undergone an organ transplant may also develop gout due to use of anti-rejection medicines.
  • Family history. If other members of your family have had gout, you're more likely to develop the condition.
  • Age and sex. Gout is more common in men, primarily because women tend to have lower uric acid levels. After menopause, however, women's uric acid levels approach those of men. Men are also more likely to develop gout earlier — usually between the ages of 30 and 50 — whereas women generally develop signs and symptoms after menopause.
  • Recent surgery or trauma. Experiencing recent surgery or trauma has been associated with an increased risk of developing a gout attack.

If you have any of the above risk factors and think you might be at risk for developing gout you can talk to your doctor about gout prevention or find best doctors online at My live doctors and receive medical advice on the go. Online medicine services like online doctors are a quicker and more convenient way of getting treated for basic health conditions.

How can you prevent gout?

Diet plays a huge role in the prevention of future gout attacks. Drink plenty of fluids since staying well-hydrated lessens the formation of crystals. Limiting consumption of sweetened beverages you drink, especially those sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup may also reduce hyperuricemia. Other beverages such as alcohol should also be avoided. Recent evidence suggests that beer may be particularly likely to increase the risk of gout symptoms, especially in men.

The best protein source is from low-fat dairy products. Research says that low-fat dairy products may actually have a protective effect against gout.  Intake of meat, fish and poultry should be limited too. You can take small amounts but pay close attention to how much you take.

Being overweight or obese may lead to raised uric acid levels. Choose portions that allow you to maintain a healthy weight. Losing weight may decrease uric acid levels in your body.

Treatment of gout

Gout treatment usually involves medications to treat acute attacks as well as prevent future gout attacks and flares. Your doctor may prescribe the following drugs:

  • NSAIDs
  • Colchicine
  • Corticosteroids

These meds are given to reduce pain and inflammation. High doses may be given initially then lower doses later on to prevent future attacks.

Other drugs like Allopurinol may be given to block uric acid production and Probenecid to increase the elimination of uric acid from the body.

For more information on arthritis and different types of joint pain please visit www.mylivedoctors.com.