What Is Gout?
Gout, one of the most recorded medical illnesses in history, is a condition of painful joints caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals. Uric acid is created when our bodies break down purines from the protein we eat.
Triggers for an attack include:
- Red meat
- Alcoholic beverages
- Drinks sweetened with sugar or high fructose
Gout is more common in men and more so in African-American men. Gout now affects up to 8.3 million Americans. If your parents suffered from gout, you have a 20% risk of having it too.
Symptoms Of Gout
A sudden attack of gout causes a rapid onset of:
- Joint pain
- Warmth of the affected joint
- Reddish discoloration
Typically pain subsides by itself from hours to days, but some bouts may require medication.
Parts Of The Body Affected By Gout
Uric acid buildup and crystallization can cause:
- Kidney stones
- Painful arthritis of the joints
- Obstructed kidney filtering tubules leading to kidney failure
- Joints of knees, ankles, toes (most commonly base of big toe)
- Joints of Fingers, wrists, elbows
Diagnosis For Gout
The following tests help diagnose gout:
- Blood test- measure levels of uric acid and creatinine
- Joint fluid test- uric acid crystals may be seen microscopically
- X-ray rules out other causes of joint inflammation (e.g. fracture)
- Ultrasound- may see uric acid crystals in joints
Home Remedies For Gout
Eliminating foods and beverages mentioned above help reduce the incidence of gout attacks.
Ways to reduce inflammation:
- Diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids (as in fish oil and flaxseed oil)
- Adding ginger to the diet
- Cook with turmeric (found in curry spice)
- Consistent Yoga (shown to decrease interleukin-6, an inflammation marker)
- Decrease stress
- Increase sleep
- Exercise regularly
Consumption of some foods have been studied for their ability to lower uric acid levels including:
- Eating cherries and drinking cherry extract
- Vitamin C (with fruits and vegetables, especially oranges)
Medical Treatment For Gout
Medication can be used to treat a current attack or prevent future ones.
- Colchicine- relief specific to gout pain. Side effects can be nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
- Corticosteroids- reduces inflammation and pain. This comes as pill or injection into joints
- NSAIDS (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)- come in both nonprescription and prescription forms
What Should I Expect With Gout Attacks
If you have taken dietary and lifestyle precautions for gout as well as the treatments above but still get several gout attacks during the year or attacks are extremely painful, there are treatment options. These options either hasten removal of uric acid from the body or inhibit production of uric acid.
Drugs that hasten uric acid removal are uricosurics. They help your kidneys remove uric acid to lower levels, thereby decreasing frequency of gout attacks. Side effects include kidney stones, stomach pain and rashes.
Drugs to inhibit uric acid production are xanthine oxidase inhibitors. They restrict the amount of uric acid that your body makes, lowering the blood level of uric acid. This decreases the risk of gout attacks.