What Is Gout?
Gout is a condition where crystals of a substance called uric acid (from urea) form in the your joints. This causes pain, swelling and tightness of the joints. A gout attack may come on suddenly (an acute episode) often occuring within a 24 hour period - this causes inflammation of the joints (arthritis) and a severe episode of pain. Formation of these crystals can cause permanent damage to the joints.
When gout is first experienced, there may be long intervals between attacks but these tend to get more frequent as time progresses - especially if no treatment is instituted. What starts as discomfort and acute pain in one joint may progresses to pain in many joints - chronic gout. Chronic gout can become a disability and may cripple you - SEEK TREATMENT WELL BEFORE THIS STAGE.
What Causes Uric Acid Buildup?
As stated, gout arises when there is a buildup of uric acid crystals in joints. Uric acid occurs normally in the bloodstream and is a product of the body's natural metabolism - it is found the urine in the form of urea. It usually passes through the body into the urine, but if too much uric acid is made in the body then a buildup of this acid occurs in the joints. Also if your kidneys do not function properly, and fail to remove enough uric acid a buildup occurs as well.
If there is too much uric acid in your body, a condition known as hyperuricaemia occurs (that is there is too much-hyper, uric acid-uric, in the blood-aemia. As blood is circulated throughout the body, including the joints, this excess uric acid may crystallise in the space between two bones (the joint space). As the buildup occurs the enzymes that the crytals help form eat into the natural padding of the joints - this can cause a stiffness of the joint and if left untreated arthritis.
What Are The Symptoms?
The joints commonly affected by gout are:
- toes, especially big toe.
If left untreated gout can cause lumps to form on your elbows, hands and feet.
Who Gets Gout?
Gout can be inherited, men seem to be more susceptible (gout is rare in pre-menopausal women) and studies have shown that Maoris and Pacific Islanders are more likely to get gout. People who have excessive amounts of certain foods in their diet can also get gout and medicines that cause an increase in blood uric acid levels can also cause gout.
Treatment of gout is as much prevention as well as alleviation of the symptoms of gout. The main aim of treatment is to prevent the buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints. To do this you must reduce intake of foods that contribute to high uric acid.
- Dietary Changes
Uric Acid production can be controlled by controlling your diet. There are 5 general rules that you should stick to if you suffer from gout:
- Reduce alcohol intake
- Eat small amounts of the following:
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