Gout is a type of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints and tissues. These crystals are sharp and pointy and can cause a lot of pain.
Uric acid is formed when we digest alcohol, fructose (a sugar found in fruit), red meat and some kinds of seafood, so eating or drinking large amounts of these foods can increase the risk of gout. Fortunately, not everyone who has a buildup of uric acid crystals in their joints gets this disease.
Gout can occur in both men and women, but it is more common in men. Men can also develop gout at a younger age. The more obese men are, the younger the age at which they tend to develop the disease. When women have gout, it usually occurs after menopause.
Some chronic health issues increase the risk of gout. These include type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease and congestive heart failure. Taking water pills increases the risk of gout.
Gout is most often found in the feet, ankles and knees, and usually attacks one joint at a time. The affected joint becomes hot, red, swollen and painful. It’s common for the pain to come on suddenly, waking people up at night. The big toe is often affected first, but this is not always the case.
Gout symptoms tend to come and go. Patients may go for weeks without any symptoms until a sudden flare up occurs. A flare up can last for weeks. Some patients only have flare ups a couple of times a year, but flareups tend to occur more often with age.
There is no cure for gout but it can be managed with medications and lifestyle changes. goutsociety-allaboutgoutanddiet-0113 (ukgoutsociety.org) Some chronic health conditions increase the risk. These include type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, congestive heart failure and kidney disease. Taking a diuretic or water pill also increases the risk of gout. It’s important to be seen by a rheumatologist when experiencing symptoms of gout, since rheumatologists specialize in treating arthritis.