Gout: Symptoms, Treatment

Overview

Gout is a type of arthritis that causes intense pain and inflammation in the joints, often in the big toe joint. Gout occurs when high levels of uric acid accumulate in the tissues and blood. Sometimes the symptoms of gout may get worse, known as flares. Sometimes there are no symptoms, which is called remission.

In the United States, more than 8 million Americans suffer from gout. Men, usually between 30 and 50 years old, are more likely to develop the condition than women. There is no cure for gout, but you can use medications and other self-care methods for treatment and management.


Causes

Excess uric acid (a normal waste product) causing urate crystal deposits may bring out a gout. This condition may happen when uric acid production increases or the kidneys cannot remove enough uric acid from the body. Risk factors for gout include:

  • Gender and age.

Gout is more likely to affect men around age 50 than women. Experts believe that female hormone can protect women against gout to some point.

  • Genes.

If you have a family member who has gout, you are at a higher risk of getting it.

  • Diet.

If you like eating red meat and shellfish as well as drinking alcohol, you’re more likely to develop gout.

  • Obesity.

Your body would produce more uric acid when you are overweight, and it is hard for your kidney to remove excessive uric acid.

  • Health conditions.

High blood pressure, diabetes, heart and kidney diseases may increase your chance of developing gout.

  • Medications.

The use of diuretics (also known as water pills) medications for treating high blood pressure may increase uric acid levels. Some transplant recipients and drugs used to suppress the immune system may also increase the risk of having gout.

  • Recent surgery or trauma.

If you have experienced surgery or trauma recently, you are at a higher risk.


Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of a gout mostly occur at night suddenly, and they can last days or weeks. General symptoms are:

  • Intense pain in joints, usually in the big toe
  • Swelling and redness in the affected joints
  • Tenderness and heat in the joints
  • Lingering discomfort by affecting more joints
  • Limited mobility as gout progresses

Diagnosis

Symptoms of gout resemble those of other types of arthritis, so proper and definite diagnosis is rather important. Generally, doctors would check the patient’s symptoms and medical history, examine the affected joints and then do blood tests to measure the level of uric acid.

Your doctor may also take an X-ray, ultrasound, CT or MRI to examine soft tissues and bones. Sometimes, your doctor may use a needle to take a fluid sample from the affected joint, and then study it under the microscope to see if crystal deposits exist.


Treatment

You should combine medications and lifestyle changes together to treat gout. Generally, medications for treating gout focuses on two purposes: treating acute attacks and reducing uric acid levels.

Treating Acute Attacks

For this purpose, several medications can help reduce the pain. They include:

Reducing Uric Acid Levels

If you have evidence of damage from gout on joint X-rays, chronic kidney disease or kidney stones, medications to lower your body’s level of uric acid may be recommended. These medications include:

  • Xanthine oxidase inhibitors (XOIs), including allopurinol (Aloprim, Lopurin, Zyloprim) and febuxostat (Uloric) to block production of uric acid.
  • Uricosuric drugs, such as probenecid (Probalan) and lesinurad (Zurampic) to help improve your kidney’s ability to remove excess uric acid.

Medications are often the most effective way to treat acute gout attack and help prevent recurrent attacks. However, making certain lifestyle changes are also important, such as:

  • Reducing intakes of red meat or sea food
  • Limiting alcohol drinking
  • Doing regular exercise and losing weight
  • Avoiding medications diuretics or transplant recipients when symptoms of gout occur

Keyword: gout.


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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.