What is Gout

There are few who are not familiar with arthritis. In fact, many will often joke that old age is setting in if they experience even the slightest pain in their joints. However, few are familiar with gout, a very specific and intense form of arthritis. Gout typically attacks only the big toe of your foot, and it can have a very sudden onset of very intense pain, often waking individuals in the middle of the night. This form of arthritis can affect the other major joints of the hands and feet- ankles, wrists, and even the knees, but most frequent complaints involve the big toe. Anyone can suffer from gout, but those who are most commonly affected are men and women who have experienced menopause.

Those suffering from gout should seek immediate medical attention if the joint has become red and swollen, as this is a sign of infection. Any intense joint pain that strikes suddenly could be early signs of gout, and individuals should call their doctor for possible diagnoses and treatment that should prevent further joint damage and pain. Untreated, gout can cause very debilitating pain that will be of the greatest intensity within the first 24 hours and will leave one with a feeling of lingering pain that could spike again and will greatly damage the joints, leaving them susceptible to further problems.

So what causes gout, and how can one avoid it?
The onset of gout begins early, when an individual starts building up too much uric acid. Uric acid is a natural bodily fluid found in the blood that is filtered through the kidney. Eating a high quantity of foods like mushrooms, asparagus, and organ meats will increase the level of uric acid that is produced, and if one is producing too much or experiencing problems with the kidneys so that they filter too little, the uric acid will start forming into sharp and painful urate crystals. These crystals then accumulate and most often congregate around joint tissues. If the urate crystals start accumulating in the urinary tract, an individual may even end up developing kidney stones.

Any factors contributing to an individual’s production of uric acid or the performance of their kidney can, therefore, lead to the development of gout. Some may be genetically predisposed to higher uric acid production levels or kidney failure, and this genetic factor can be determined by investigating ones family medical history. Any relatives with a history of arthritis, gout, kidney stones, or other kidney problems could mean that you may have problems with gout. There are, however, other factors that you can control. Maintaining a healthy diet, for example, can help prevent gout, specifically avoid foods high in uric acid content or foods that could damage the kidneys, specifically alcohol.

There are several medications and any number of home remedies used to treat gout. A very simple solution may be the prescription of an NSAID drug like Motrin, Advil, or Aleve as these all help reduce the pain from swelling and inflammation. If an individual is unable to take NSAIDs, a doctor may prescribe a colchicine or corticosteroid pain reliever. There are also many other medications specifically designed to either reduce uric acid production or improve kidney performance. Home remedies all include various dietary changes aimed toward improved kidney function.

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