People who are attacked by gout, often wake up from sleep and are surprised to notice their big toe to be sore, red, warm and swollen. Gout shows sudden symptoms in the form of a swollen big toe or a lower body joint. To know what this unpleasant and painful surprise is all about, let us know in detail about “Gouty Arthritis” or simply “Gout”.
What is Gout?
Gout is a complex form of arthritis. It is characterized by sudden and severe attacks of pain causing redness and tenderness in the joints. People with gout experience an attack of sudden burning pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints.
What causes Gout?
The main cause behind developing gout is having too much uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is produced in the body when the purines are broken down. Purines are chemical compounds found in high amounts in certain foods such as meat, poultry and seafood.
In general, the produced uric acid is dissolved in the blood and excreted by kidneys. If the production of uric acid increases or if it is not excreted properly, it can form hard crystals in the joints and surrounding tissue that trigger inflammation and pain which leads to gout.
What are the symptoms of Gout?
The most common symptoms seen when a person is affected by gout include:
- Warmth of the joint
- Intense pain, swelling and extreme tenderness in the joint
- Red or purplish skin around the affected joint
- Decreased range of movement in the affected joint
How can Gout be diagnosed?
Gout is usually diagnosed by observing the symptoms and medical history of the patient. The doctor examines the affected joint and prescribes the following investigations:
- Blood test: To measure the levels of uric acid and creatinine in the blood.
- Joint fluid test: Fluid from the affected joint is drawn using a needle. This fluid is examined under a microscope to make sure whether it contains urate crystals.
- X-Ray Imaging: X-ray of the affected joint can help to know the causes of joint inflammation.
Who is most likely to get Gout?
As mentioned earlier, high levels of uric acid in blood develop gout. The levels of uric acid in body increase if people:
- Eat too much of meat and seafood that contains purines which are broken down into uric acid leads to increasing the levels of uric acid in the blood.
- Consume a lot of alcohol
- Overweight or obese, as this leads to the production of excess uric acid and makes it difficult for kidneys to eliminate uric acid.
- Use certain medications for the treatment of hypertension or other drugs if they have undergone an organ transplant, as these drugs can increase the uric acid levels.
- Have a family history of gout.
What is the treatment for Gout?
Usually, gout is treated with medications that are prescribed based on the current health of the patient. The medications are used to treat the attacks of gout and prevent the future attacks and to reduce the complications that may arise from gout.