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What is Gout?

Gout is an inflammatory arthritis that affects your big toe joint and causes pain and inflammation of the joint.

Gout shows the sign that you have high Uric acid in your body. The inflammatory disease can also affect your other joints such as knees, elbows, wrists, feet, and ankles.

Who Can Get Gout?

You are likely to get Gout if you have:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • A family history of people with gout
  • Kidney condition
  • Congestive heart failure
  • A habit of eating purine-rich foods more often
  • A habit of eating food and drinks rich in fructose corn syrup
  • Take high blood pressure drugs like beta blockers and diuretics
  • Experience imbalance in your microbiome.

How is Gout Diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider uses 3 ways to diagnose gout: Medical history l, tests, and physical examination.

A diagnosis involving physical examination is where the doctor analyzes your symptoms and examines your joints. The doctor may ask you questions such as when you noticed your first symptom and how often the symptom appears.

Tests help the doctor understand the main cause of your joint pain and swelling. These tests include:

Blood test:

A blood test is used to measure the amount of uric acid in your blood. The amount of uric acid in the blood doesn't always determine whether you have gout.

Some people have a normal amount of uric acid and test positive for gout while some have high levels of uric acid but test negative for gout.

Joint fluid analysis

This is the best diagnosis method preferred by most doctors. A doctor removes the fluid from the painful joint to examine uric acid crystals.

Ultrasound scan: Ultrasound scan is a method used to detect crystals in your joints. The scan also helps in identifying any damage caused by gout.

X-Ray: X-rays are mostly used to identify other conditions that may cause joint pain and swelling other than gout. An example of such a condition is chondrocalcinosis.

Pseudogout Vs Gout

Pseudogout and gout are both types of arthritis caused by crystals in the joints.

Pseudogout, also known as calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate crystal deposition disease, occurs when there's an abnormal excess of calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate crystals.

Gout, on the other hand, is caused by uric acid crystals.

Gout symptoms are usually felt in the big toe, while pseudogout symptoms are commonly felt in the wrist, knee, and ankle.

Gout can be diagnosed using a CT scan, but pseudogout cannot.


How Long Does Gout Last?

Gout attacks Mostly for 1 to 2 weeks. The attacks can go on for more days and cause severe symptoms.

Stages of Gout

Below are some of the stages you will undergo as gout continues.

Stage 1. High Uric Acid levels stage.

This stage is also known as the asymptomatic stage. You will not show any symptoms of gout and when diagnosed you will test negative.

This is the stage where uric acid builds up in your blood and forms crystals at the joints.

Stage 2.Acute Gout Stage.

You will experience sudden attacks on your big toe. Some of the symptoms you will notice at this stage include pain, redness, and swelling of the affected joint. Urate crystals are released into the joint fluid causing the swelling.

Stage 3. Intercritical gout stage.

After the first gout attack, you will experience the second attack after a few months of the same year.

You will experience no pain at this stage and your uric acid level will lower as you continue taking your medication.

Stage 4. Chronic gout stage.

This stage is also known as a tophaceous stage where you experience painful symptoms often.

At this stage, the uric acid creates abnormal tissues that form another joint. Chronic gout stage occurs after some years and if not we'll be treated can cause severe damage.

How to Prevent Gout?

There are different ways you can implement to prevent gout.

Regular exercises: Regular exercises help in reducing the risk of diseases such as obesity which pits you at risk of developing gout.

Drinking plenty of water: Hydrating often helps in reducing dehydration and also enables your kidneys to function properly.

Avoid high-purine foods and drinks: Examples of these foods and drinks include alcohol, sugary drinks, game meats, organ meats, turkey,  seafood (specific types), gravy meats and sauces, and sugary sweets.


What Causes Gout?

The main cause of gout is excess uric acid. Your body makes uric acid by breaking down purines. Purines are chemicals found in drinks and foods such as red meat, sugar sodas, beer-specific seafood, and organ meals.

Uric acid becomes excess when your kidney delays removing uric acid from your blood or fails to excrete it the right way. Kidneys are responsible for filtering uric acid out of your blood.

Excess uric acid leads to uric acid crystals that build up and settle on your joints. You feel the sudden pain in joints due to the clumping together of the needle-like uric acid crystals. Another symptom you may experience due to clumping is inflammation.

Gout attacks occur after 24 hours and disappear on their own. You are likely to get Gout once in your lifetime or after every few years.

If you notice recurrent gout attacks get treatment to avoid it spreading to other joints or getting severe attacks.


Gout Treatment 
Some of the things you may consider before choosing a gout treatment are the severity of your symptoms, personal preference, and frequency of your gout.

Examples of gout treatments include:

  • Uric acid-lowering drugs:

Your doctor may recommend treatments that lower the amount of uric acid in your body. Such treatments are preferred if you often get gout attacks, tophi, or joint damage.

Allopurinol and Febuxostat are some of the drugs that lower uric acid. However, Febuxostat can put you at risk of a fatal heart attack.

Another way to lower uric acid is to treat to target gout approach. This is where you adjust your medications until you achieve less than 6mg/blood level of uric acid.

  • Anti-inflammatory treatments: Anti-inflammatories are good at reducing gout attacks fast. Examples of antiinflammatories include:
  • Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids quickly relieve inflammation.

Colchicine: A good prescription drug for receiving gout pain.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAIDs):

Over-the-counter drugs are good for people under 65 years. People over 65 years should not take this drug since it can cause ulcers, especially for those who take blood thinners.


Gout Symptoms 

Below are some of the gout Symptoms that you should check.

  • Sudden joint pain especially on your big toe
  • Swollen and red skin on the affected joint area
  • Limited motion. Due to pain in your joints, you are unable to move freely
  • Discomfort. Discomfort is caused by severe pain in the joint
  • Flaky skin or peeling of the skin.

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