Your body produces varied substances including chemicals, some of which are ejected from the body as waste. Uric acid is one of the chemical substances that your body creates by breaking down purines, which you obtain through eating some foods and drinks such as peas, beans, liver, beer and wine, amongst other foods and drinks. As your system breaks down purines contained in these foods, the resultant uric acid dissolves in the blood and is channeled to your kidneys, from where it is eliminated from your body as urine. It may occur that your body produces too much uric acid or does not eliminate a substantial amount of that which it produces. The retained uric acid is bound to crystallize and be deposited in your joints, causing gout.
The common joints that gout affects are the knee, toe and finger joints. Gout can occur alone (primary gout) or along with other or another health condition (secondary gout). This is usually the case with chronic gout, which occurs as gout arthritis. Crystallization of uric acid in your body tissues also leads to kidney disease and kidney stones. Once affected, you are bound to experience varied symptoms, with the main one being joint inflammation. You are likely to have painful inflamed joints that are tender, reddish and warm to touch. The pain and inflammation increases at night probably because of reduced temperatures. You may also experience some internal pain if your kidneys are also affected.
Causes of Gout
You can develop gout because of varied reasons, some of which include:
- Poor lifestyle – Consumption of alcohol, red meat, seafood and fructose-sweetened drinks all contribute to the occurrence of gout.
- Heredity – You are most likely to develop gout if one or both of your parents have or were diagnosed with the same.
- Health condition – Medical conditions such as obesity, hypertension and psoriasis amongst others increase your risk of developing gout.
- Medications – Chemotherapy, diuretics, anti-hypertensive and aspirin medications amongst others have been linked to the occurrence of gout.
Diagnosis of Gout
Various tests are available for diagnosing gout. Such include:
- Joint aspiration – This is a procedure in which a needle is inserted into an infected joint so that fluid for testing is obtained. Microscopic examination is likely to reveal uric acid crystals.
- Blood tests – Your doctor can recommend various blood tests to determine your uric levels and for kidney function test.
- Radiography – Your doctor may recommend X-rays for the assessment of joint damage just in case you have suffered what may be suspected to be episodes of gout arthritis.
Treatment of Gout
Treating gout involves the use of varied medications. Your doctor is likely to prescribe painkillers for pain, anti-inflammatory medications to take care of joint inflammation and the rest for prevention of further gout attacks. Treatment medications include non-steroid anti-inflammatory medications such as indomethacin and ibuprofen, Corticosteroids such as prednisone amongst others. Your doctor will only recommend gout surgery after confirming serious damage to affected joint(s).
Gout is a serious disease that can interrupt your overall health and ability to undertake regular activities effectively. It is only important that you take necessary measures to prevent its occurrence. This you can do by controlling your cholesterol levels, lower your weight if you are obese, ensure that your body is properly hydrated, avoid drinking and in case you need to, be moderate, avoid fructose-sweetened sweets and above all, restrict to using prescription drugs instead of self medication.