Gout is a form of arthritis characterized by sudden, severe pain and swelling in the joints (most commonly in the toes). Read on to learn more about the signs and symptoms of gout, as well as the causes of this illness and the remedies used to treat it.
Signs of Gout
If you begin to experience sharp pains in the joints of your feet at night, you may be struggling with gout. This intense pain, which often lasts up to 12 hours, can also affect your ankles, knees, and hands. During these attacks, the joints may be swollen, red, and tender to the touch. Even after the most serious pain goes away, you may still feel soreness in the affected area for up to a few weeks. The longer you have gout, the more severe the symptoms and the more parts of the body they affect.
Causes of Gout
The pain of gout is caused by an accumulation of uric acid in the blood. While this substance is usually excreted by the kidneys, uric acid crystals can form if your body is making too much or if your kidneys are not functioning properly. A buildup of uric acid can also be caused by overindulging in certain foods, such as seafood, organ meats, red meat, sweet drinks, and alcoholic beverages.
Treatment for Gout
Gout is usually treated with medications such as over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, prescription pain relievers, and corticosteroids. For those with chronic gout, medication may be prescribed to lower uric acid levels and/or block uric acid production.
Who Gets Gout?
People at high risk for gout include those who have a diet high in the items listed above, those who are obese, those with high blood pressure or other chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, those who take blood pressure medication, those with a family history of gout, those who have had a recent surgery, and men between the ages of 30 and 50.
By controlling your lifestyle risk factors, such as limiting fatty foods and alcohol and exercise regularly, you can help prevent gout attacks from occurring.