Know your enemy so you can win it. Although some medieval drawings are representing gout flare pain as a biting demon, the condition is manageable long-term by most of the people. Through understanding the process, knowing if there are some other conditions, related to gout, and mostly, by sticking to a specific diet there are great chances to reduce the uric acid level and the gout flare attacks.
You can find most of the common questions regarding gout answered here.
A gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis characterized by recurrent attacks of a red, tender, hot, and swollen joint. It is recognized by the gout flares, that come quickly (less than 12 hours) and is quite painful.
Over time, the sharp purine crystals cause inflammation, resulting in unexpected and extremely painful attacks in the joints of the foot, knee, ankle, hand, and wrist – especially the big toe. This is called also gout flare. The scientific explanation is that often during the night, the purine crystals that are being formed on your joints get inflamed. The body responds by sending white blood cells to the infected area. They produce cytokines, that attract more white blood cells and the final result is a painful war around your joint, that lasts a few days.
All of the cells in the human body, and many of the foods we eat, contain substances known as purines.
When food is digested and during other processes, the purines are converted into uric acid that is carried in the blood in form of a salt called urate.
When the human body produces higher levels of uric acid (and urate) than the average during a diet, or they do not pass enough urate in their urine, a process of crystallization occurs. This process and the crystals produced are called purines and are considered the cause of gout.
Extreme diets, some drugs like diuretics or aspirin, stress, prolonged illness, or injury can also cause gout.
Daily intake of purines high foods, fructose-sweetened drinks, and alcohol is also a common reason for gout.
Gout is also partly genetic and changes in urine acid levels are affected by this inheritance.
The pain during a gout flare attack is really painful and can limit the overall quality of life, and one’s performance of daily activities.
In addition, gout can also be associated with numerous other diseases and medical conditions. Some of these are:
Briefly, gout can be a sign for another condition, previously remained hidden. If you have some doubts or signs of gout, do seek medical assistance at your earliest convenience.
During the night or early in the morning unexpected and acute attack occurs. The pain rapidly increases, most often in the joints of the foot, knee, ankle, hand, and wrist – especially the big toe as there are the places where the purine clusters are growing slowly over time. You can read a more detailed article on the gout symptoms here.
The skin on the inflammation place might become red and hot, and sometimes the severity of the attack can cause the skin to peel.
The duration of a gout attack that is not treated lasts a few days. It fades away after this period and the joint returns to normal. Some people have just one attack. If the uric acid levels remain high, however, most of the people will have another attack between half a year and 2 years.
If the condition remains untreated, the frequency of the attacks will increase over time and may cause joint deformations or gout tophus or tophi.
The usual approach in gout management is defined by three steps.
If you have any doubts or symptoms of gout, visit your doctor asap.
The detection of uric acid levels is an easy and fast procedure. Your doctor will be able to help you identify whether you have gout and, if so, prescribe the drug that is most appropriate for you to relieve the pain and swelling.
If you have multiple attacks over time it is recommended to visit a rheumatologist and have long-term treatment.
You can also take participation in our auto-assessment interactive test, to determine whether you might have gout symptoms.