Gout is a type of arthritis, affecting millions of people around the world. It’s caused by a buildup of uric acid in the joints and can cause pain and inflammation. Understanding the underlying causes and treatment of gout is key to managing the condition.
What Causes Gout?
The primary cause of gout is high levels of uric acid in the body. Uric acid is normally broken down and excreted by the kidneys—but some conditions, like kidney disease or certain medications, can lead to higher levels of uric acid in the body. Foods high in purines, like red meat, organ meats, seafood, and alcohol can also raise uric acid levels.
What Are the Symptoms of Gout?
Common symptoms of gout include sudden and severe joint pain, swelling, redness and warmth in the affected joint. People who have gout may also experience fatigue, fever and chills. Gout attacks can last from hours to days and usually occur at night.
Gout Treatment and Prevention
The primary goal of treatment for gout is to reduce pain and inflammation. Over-the-counter pain medications, like ibuprofen, can be used to control pain during flares. Prescription medications, like allopurinol, can help to reduce uric acid levels and reduce the risk of future gout flares. For those at risk of gout, making lifestyle changes like eating a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol, and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce your risk of gout flares and future joint damage.
Gout and Your Health
Gout is a chronic condition that can lead to disability if left untreated. Regular visits to your doctor and lifestyle changes can help you manage the condition, reduce pain and swelling, and minimize future flares. With proper management, people with gout can lead healthy, active lives.
What are the long-term complications of gout?
Long-term complications of gout can include:
• Joint damage- left untreated, gout can cause permanent joint damage, inflexibility, and even deformity. If gout is not treated properly, the pain can become more frequent and more severe and may even permanently damage the joints.
• Kidney stones- when uric acid levels become too high, it can lead to the formation of kidney stones, which can cause abdominal pain, nausea, and difficulty with urination.
• Chronic kidney failure- elevated levels of uric acid in the bloodstream can cause permanent kidney damage and even kidney failure over time.
• Hypertension- Studies have found that there is a link between gout and high blood pressure. This can lead to many further health problems.
• Heart disease- gout has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, especially for those who are untreated for two or more years.
• Diabetes- people with gout have a higher risk of developing diabetes than the general population.