Gout is a form of arthritis that causes painful inflammation. Gout impacts the joints, typically one at a time and most often the big toe. The instances of pain and swelling occur at random during flares. The time between flares are remissions, which can last any length of time. Gout has no cure, but it does have effective treatments that help lessen the symptoms.
Gout is becoming more of a common affliction for people. However, unlike other forms of arthritis, you can take preventative measures to decrease your chance of having gout.
Gout occurs when the body has a buildup of uric acid. The excess uric acid crystallizes near joints, which causes the pain and inflammation in those areas. The body produces uric acid to break down purines. However, sometimes the body produces too much of the acid, causing an excess. In other cases, the kidneys do not excrete enough uric acid to balance the amount of acid. Sometimes the combination of malfunctions can also lead to the buildup.
Not everyone with uric acid processing issues will develop gout. Many people who have hyperuricemia, or high levels of uric acid in the blood, do not develop gout in their life.
There are different symptoms of gout, depending on the type of the condition the person has. Some people live with high levels of uric acid in their systems yet have asymptomatic gout. In these cases, the person does not experience any pain or other symptoms brought on by gout. There are slight differences in the symptoms between acute and chronic gout that can affect how long and to what degree the symptoms appear.
In general, symptoms of gout last anywhere from 3 to 10 days. During periods of remission, the person will not experience any symptoms. There are no signals of a gout flare, for the pain rapidly sets in.
Many people will develop gout, but there are several lifestyle and biological factors that make certain types of people more likely to have gout.
You should seek medical assistance when you have painful inflammation in your joints. The sooner a doctor can diagnose gout, the better the treatment will be.
Doctors will use a combination of examinations and tests to diagnose gout. A doctor would ask for these tests if a review of the patient’s medical history and description of symptoms points to gout.
The doctor and patient will work to prescribe medication and lifestyle modifications to best treat gout for the individual. There are no standard treatments that work for all individuals. Part of the reason is that gout medications either manage the pain and inflammation or lower the uric acid levels, but not both. The frequency and severity of a person’s gout attacks will help in deciding which type of medication will work best. Doctors also need to help the patient choose medications to help prevent any damage caused by gout that can lead to more serious conditions in the future.
Certain medications are used to both treat flares and manage levels of uric acids. Flares are treated with the following medications:
Doctors commonly prescribe the following medications to manage uric acid levels:
While medications are the most effective way to treat gout, people with gout can also make lifestyle changes to manage gout and its effects. The biggest change a person can make is adjusting their diet. By cutting out foods and drinks that lead to an increase in uric acid levels, people can more effectively keep future gout attacks away.
People can also be more active. Sticking to a light exercise routine can help you stay in control of your weight as well as keep your joints mobile and healthy. A stronger body will help your system process uric acid and reduce the chance of a gout attack.
People with gout can utilize management strategies to keep the negative effects of gout at bay. Medications and lifestyle changes can help people with gout return to their normal life with a lessened fear of a gout attack. Gout can lead to more serious conditions like tophi and kidney stones. However, making a treatment plan with your doctor can help with this.
While gout and pseudogout are both forms of arthritis, they have different causes and impacts. Gout occurs when excess uric acid crystallizes in the joints. Pseudogout, however, is caused by a buildup of calcium pyrophosphate in the joints. Symptoms of gout and pseudogout are similar, but pseudogout tends to affect the knees instead of the big toe.
The only definitive way to tell the two apart is to have a doctor use a joint fluid test to determine which kind of crystal building is causing the pain. The doctor will then consult with the patient on how to treat either form of arthritis. Gout has preventative and pain management treatments while pseudogout only has attack management medications.