Gout is a type of arthritis, and it also happens to be one of the most painful types. This happens when the body has built up too much uric acid. When it occurs, this can lead to uric acid crystals forming in the joints. Most often, this occurs in the big toe. In fact, this is often where the first attack of gout will occur. These deposits will look like lumps under the skin. They can also form uric acid crystals in the kidneys.
If you feel as though you might have gout, it is important to understand the symptoms that you should be looking for in yourself.
What Are the Symptoms of Gout?
One of the first symptoms you will feel when you have gout is a sensation of warmth and pain in the joints. As mentioned, this often happens in the big toe joint. There will also be swelling. The term for this symptom is podagra, and more of the time, the pain will begin in the night.
The pain can grow quickly in intensity. In fact, the pain can grow to the point where any pressure on the joint, even very light pressure, is unbearable. The skin around the joint becomes red or it may even develop a purple appearance. Naturally, the movement will be limited as well.
Where Else Can Gout Affect?
Even though most people have the worst (and first) symptoms of gout in their big toe, that is not the only area that it can affect. It can also affect the ankles, heels, insteps, knees, wrists, fingers, and elbows. If you have symptoms in these areas, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t gout just because the condition is so commonly associated with the big toe. As the attack starts to fade after several days, the skin around the joint will often itch and start to peel.
What Causes a Gout Attack?
One of the biggest causes is the type of food that a person eats, which can cause the uric acid to build up in their system. However, that is certainly not the only thing that can cause a gout attack. Some of the other issues that could contribute to a gout attack include things such as drugs and alcohol, another illness and stressful events. Most of the time, the attacks will get better within three to ten days. With many people, the attacks can be months apart, or even years apart.
If the uric acid builds up in the body and the kidneys can’t get rid of it quickly enough, it will increase the risk of a gout attack. There are a number of risk factors for gout as well. Those who have family members with the disease are more likely to suffer from gout. Men are more likely to be sufferers than women. Some of the other elements that can increase your risk include being overweight, drinking too much alcohol, having an enzyme defect, too much niacin, and even certain medicines, such as aspirin.
Doctors will often treat the gout attacks using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. They may also use corticosteroids and colchicine. The latter works best when taken within the first 12 hours of the attack’s onset.
Make Sure You See a Rheumatologist
If you suffer from gout, or you fear that you might suffer from gout, it may be time to see a rheumatologist. The doctor can help you find the best course of treatment to deal with gout and will provide you with tips on avoiding gout attacks, such as following the right type of diet.