Gout

What is gout?

Gout is considered a type of arthritis. It causes flare-ups/attacks of extreme pain and tenderness in the joints that occur suddenly. These attacks are common in the joint at the bottom of the big toe. The joints that are affected by gout become swollen, hot, stiff, and extremely tender during an attack. The attacks can occur at any time. People may feel an extreme burning sensation and sensitivity to the touch. Gout is more common in men but women can also get it, especially after menopause. The attacks caused by gout will continue to occur if treatment is not received and over time may cause damage to the joints, tissues, and tendons. It may also result in bumps under the skin (tophi) and kidney stones. 
 
Gout is a result of high uric acid levels in the blood, causing crystals of the uric acid to deposit in the joints. The stages of gout include:
 
  • Asymptomatic hyperuricemia: This is the time before the first attack occurs. The person experiences no symptoms but they still have a high level of uric acid in the blood which is causing crystals to form.
  • Acute gout aka gout attack: This happens when the uric acid levels spike suddenly or the crystals in the joints are jolted, possibly because of an event such as a night of drinking. When these things happen, an attack occurs.  
  • Interval gout: This is the time between flare-ups/attacks.
  • Chronic gout: This occurs when the uric acid levels continue to be high for years. This can cause joint damage and mobility difficulties. If proper treatment is obtained, chronic gout can be prevented. 
 
 
Risk factors
 
  • Obesity: Being overweight causes the body to make more uric acid, which increases the risk of gout. 
  • Diet: High consumption of alcohol, red meats, seafood, and fructose can increase the body’s production of uric acid.
  • Certain medications such as thiazide diuretics or aspirin may raise uric acid levels. 
  • Gender: Men tend to be more affected than women.
  • Age: Gout is more common in men ages 30-50 and in women after menopause. 
  • Recent surgery/trauma
  • Family history of gout
  • Other medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and kidney disease may increase one’s risk for gout. 
 
 
Diagnosis 
When diagnosing gout your doctor will likely do a complete medical history and physical exam. Your doctor will pay close attention to your signs, symptoms, and joint involvement. 
 
Some tests that may be done to diagnose gout include:
 
  • Blood tests may be done to measure creatinine and uric acid levels. Blood tests do not provide a definitive diagnosis of gout, however. 
  • Joint fluid tests are done to look for uric acid crystals in the fluid of the affected joint. 
  • Ultrasound may be used to look for uric acid crystals in a joint. 
  • X-ray imaging may be done to rule out other causes of joint inflammation. 
  • Dual energy CT scan can look for the presence of uric acid crystals in the joint even in the absence of an attack. 
 
 
Treatment
Treatment for gout may vary from person to person. The main goal of treatment is to treat/prevent flare-ups/acute attacks. 
 
Potential treatment for gout includes:
 
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Corticosteroids
  • Medications that block uric acid production
  • Medications that improve uric acid removal
  • Other pain relievers 
  • Surgery to remove uric acid crystals
 
 
 
 
# GOUT BY THE NUMBERS #
  • Approximately 60% of people who experience a gout attack will experience a second one within a year. About 84% will have another attack within 3 years. 
  • In the U.S., gout affects about 4% of people (8.3 million). 
  • Increased levels of uric acid in the blood affects approximately 21% of the U.S. population (43.3 million).  
 
about gout
 

Sources:
  • "Gout." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 10 Nov. 2015. Web. 12 Oct. 2017.
  • “Gout- Topic Overview.” WebMD, n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2017. 
  • “What Is Gout?” Arthritis Foundation, n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2017. 
  • “Gout (Gouty Arthritis).” MedicineNet.com, 07 Jul. 2017. Web. 12 Oct. 2017. 
  • “Gout.” American College of Rheumatology, Mar. 2017. Web. 12 Oct. 2017. 
  • “Gout.” National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, n.d. Web. 12 Oct. 2017. 
  • “Gout on the Rise in the U.S.” WebMD, 28 Jul. 2011. Web. 12 Oct. 2017. 

 

People suffering from arthritis and RMDs (rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases) often see a decrease in their quality of life. They are unable to enjoy the same activities they once enjoyed and often have difficulty carrying out everyday functions they once used to do with ease. However, there are plenty of things people can do to prevent this from happening. Here are five ways to reduce the risk of arthritis:
 
world arthritis day

 

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