What is Gout?
Gout is a kind of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints. Uric acid is a breakdown product of purines that are part of many foods we eat. An abnormality in handling uric acid and crystallization of these compounds in joints can cause attacks of painful arthritis, kidney stones, and blockage of the kidney filtering tubules with uric acid crystals, leading to kidney failure.
Gout has the unique distinction of being one of the most frequently recorded medical illnesses throughout history.
What causes Gout?Gout results from abnormal deposits of uric acid crystals in the joint cartilage. The crystals are later released into the joint fluid.
Gout was once incorrectly thought to be a disease of only the rich and famous, caused by consuming too much rich food and fine wine. Although diet and excessive drinking contribute to gout, they are not the main cause of the condition. We now know that heredity plays a role in the development of gout, and it's often associated with other medical problems like high blood pressure.
Not everyone with high levels of uric acid will develop gout. The kidneys' ability to rid the body of uric acid is partly determined by heredity. And just because someone in the family suffers from gout does not mean everyone in that family will have the disease. This risk varies from person to person.
What Are the Symptoms of Gout?
- Sudden, intense joint pain, which often can wake a person from sleep
- Swollen joint that is warm to touch
- Red or purple skin around the joint.
The amount of uric acid in your blood can change depending on what you eat and drink, how hydrated or dehydrated you are, your overall health, how much alcohol you drink, and the medicines you are taking. It can change in response to a sudden illness..
How Is Gout Treated?
There is no cure for gout, but it can be treated and controlled. Symptoms often are relieved within 24 hours after treatment has begun.
The type of treatment prescribed will depend on several factors, including the person's age, type of medications he or she is taking, overall health, medical history, and severity of gout attacks. Gout attacks are mainly treated with anti-inflammatory drugs. These include:
- NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, are generally prescribed to treat sudden and severe gout attacks. They usually reduce inflammation and pain within hours.
- Corticosteroids (also called steroids), may be prescribed for people who cannot take NSAIDs. Steroids also work by decreasing inflammation. Steroids can be injected into the affected joint or given as pills.
- Colchicine is often used to treat gout and usually begins working within a few hours of taking it. This drug is used less often due to concerns about its side effects.
Dr. Sanjay Kapoor (Orthopedics & Joint Replacement Surgeon)
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