Frequently Asked Questions About Gout
What is Gout?
Gout is a rheumatic disease in the arthritis family resulting in the deposits of uric acid crystals in the tissues and fluids of a person’s body. Gout is caused when one has high uric acid levels in the blood usually over 6 mg. It first begins with what we call asymptomatic hyperuricemia that is the period before getting a first gout attack where there are no symptoms as of yet and crystals are slowly forming in the joint. There is a breakdown in the metabolic process that is supposed to maintain healthy uric acid levels but the body produces too much uric acid causing this disease.
How is Uric Acid Connected to Gout?
Everybody has a certain level of uric acid in their blood where it is transported to the kidneys and then it is flushed out through the urine. Some people produce too much uric acid or they produce normal amounts but their kidneys don’t process it properly and as a result the uric acid keeps building up. It then crystallizes in the joint causing gout.
What Are the Symptoms of Gout?
The symptoms of gout are painful inflammation usually in the big toe but can also occur in the knee, ankle, elbow and fingers. The affected joint becomes tender, warm, sensitive, red and swollen. A gout attack or flare-up usually occurs without any warning and usually strike at night when the body temperature is the coolest.
How Long Does Gout Last?
Gout is what we call a lifelong disease cause the majority of people who are diagnosed with it will have gout for the remainder of their lives. This is what we call chronic gout. Acute gout is when a person suffers a flare-up or gout attack and pain usually subsides anywhere between 7 to 12 days depending on the severity.
Who is Affected by Gout?
Gout is quite common and affects about 3.9% or 8.3 million adults in the United States, about 6 million men and 2 million women. The prevalence of gout is higher in men. Gout is more common in men than women until around age 60. Researchers believe natural estrogen protects women up to that point.
What are Considered Gout Risk Factors?
Usually people that are diagnosed with gout are people that suffer from other conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis to name a few. Genetics are also considered a risk factor for some.
Medications are also considered risk factors like diuretics taken by people suffering from high blood pressure or drugs that suppress the immune system taken by psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis sufferers can raise uric acid levels.
Finally, obesity is also a major risk factor. There is a strong correlation between people that are obese which are at a higher risk of developing gout.
What Joints Can Get Affected by Gout?
50% of the time gout will affect the big toe. It can also affect the elbow, knee, fingers, middle of the foot and wrist. Men will often get flare-ups in the bottom half of their body while women will experience them in the upper half.
What About Diet? Is that a Gout Risk Factor as Well?
Yes it is! People that suffer from gout usually ate foods that are known to raise uric acid levels in the blood. Foods like red meat, seafood, shellfish, organ meats, processed meats, processed foods, foods/beverages high in fructose, high fructose corn syrup and alcohol. Obesity increases one’s risk of developing gout as well.
Is There a Gout Cure?
Unfortunately at this time gout is what we call a lifelong disease and there is no cure. Gout though is very manageable with medication, a healthy diet, exercise and some supplements. You can live a normal life and pain free!
Are Natural Gout Treatments and Alternative Non-Medical Remedies Safe and Effective?
It depends. Whenever trying to take this route is it always recommended that you work with your doctor and measure the results. There are many gout sufferers who have claimed and stated that many different remedies do work but please remember that everybody is different and results will vary.
What Are the Risks if I ignore my Gout and Decide Not to Get Any Treatment?
The risks are very real. If gout is left untreated, the length and severity of attacks will become worse over time and more frequent. You can also experience deteriorating joints over time which can cause a permanent disability. Furthermore, your joints can become deformed. Gout can also cause other complications as well. It is in your best interest to treat it immediately and manage it long term.