Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs in people when they have a buildup of uric acid crystals in their joints. The uric acid comes from many of the foods that we eat. Some food has more of these acids in it than others do. When the crystals form in the joints, it can cause some extremely painful attacks.
What Happens in a Gout Attack?
Those who suffer from gout will sometimes have a flare-up, which can cause an extraordinary amount of pain in the joints and in the surrounding tissue. Fortunately, it is not a constant condition. It comes and goes. Someone might have an attack and then go months or years without having another one. Later, we’ll discuss some of the things you can do to lessen the chance of an attack.
As mentioned, the pain can be very severe. In some cases, the pain is so great that the person suffering can’t have anything touch their skin around the joint, even clothing or the bed sheet. Water and even blowing air from a fan can cause pain for these individuals.
In many cases, the pain is concentrated around the big toe joints. This is called podagra. However, that’s certainly not the only place that gout can attack. In addition, people may suffer from pain in their ankles, knees, wrists, elbows, and fingers.
What Causes Gout?
Gout is most common in males who are between 40 and 50 years old, but it can also affect others. It is a common disease that affects around six million people in the United States. It is the most common type of inflammatory arthritis, and fortunately, there are some things that can be done to help treat it. First, let’s get a better understanding of some of the major causes of gout.
Gout occurs because of uric acid. This acid is a waste product that is generated when purines are broken down. The purines are in various types of food. Most of the time, the uric acid will be cleaned out by the kidneys. The acid will leave the body along with the urine. However, that’s not always what happens. In some people, high levels will start to gather in the body. The kidneys might be unable to excrete all the uric acid, or the body might be producing too much of it. This increases the likelihood of gout occurring.
A number of other factors can cause a person to be even more susceptible to gout. Those who have a family history of gout are at a higher risk. In addition, people who are overweight, who drink too much alcohol, or who take certain meds (namely, niacin and diuretics) are at a higher risk as well. If you’ve been exposed to lead, that could also be a factor.
Tips for Avoiding Flare-Ups
Some simple tips can help you to keep the gout flare-ups at bay. One of the best things to do is make sure you have an adequate level of fluid intake. Drinking fresh water can help, as it will help flush out the kidneys. In addition to reducing gout attacks, it can also help to reduce the formation of kidney stones. Reduce or stop consumption of alcohol if you have gout, and make sure you are eating foods that are low in purines.
Some of the types of food you want to avoid include shellfish, red meat, liver, kidneys, and brains. It can also be a good idea to increase the amount of dairy that you eat, as this has been shown to reduce the instances of flare-ups. Those who are overweight should also consider dropping some weight, as this can help immensely.
Five Medications Used for Treating Gout
Of course, you will want to consider taking medication prescribed by your doctor as well. There are some excellent medications that can provide both short-term and long-term help. We’ll look at each of these and let you know how each one works.
Ibuprofen is a good option for a short-term medication that can help to reduce the inflammation and the pain during an acute attack. This is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug that can help you deal with an attack that suddenly occurred.
Corticosteroids, which can be in pill form or in a shot, are good options for those patients that do not benefit from the use of NSAIDs.
Xanthene helps to reduce the production of uric acid in the body, and it is a good long-term option. Another long-term drug is colchicine, which can prevent flare-ups in the early months of taking uric acid-lowering meds. Pegloticase is a choice used by those who suffer from long lasting gout that hadn’t been helped with other types of treatment.
These are just some of the most common and most effective meds in use for treating gout today. The best thing to do is speak to your Rheumatologist for the best and most effective treatment for your gout symptoms.