Gout is a condition that causes inflamed, painful joints. The symptoms are caused by deposits of urate crystals at the joints. Gout used to be associated kings who overindulged in rich foods and wine. In truth, anyone can get gout. Gout affects more men than women. It is often linked with obesity, high blood pressure, high levels of lipids in the blood (hyperlipidemia), and diabetes.
Gout is caused by monosodium urate crystal deposits in the joints. This is due to an excess of uric acid in the body. The excess of uric acid may be caused by several things. It may be caused by the body making too much uric acid. Or, the kidneys may not get rid of enough uric acid. And it may be caused by eating a lot of foods that are high in purines. Purines turn into uric acid in the body. Foods high in purines include certain meats, such as game meats, kidney, brains, and liver. It includes some seafood, such as anchovies, herring, scallops, sardines, and mackerel. And it includes dried beans and dried peas. Alcoholic drinks and sugary drinks high in fructose may also increase levels of uric acid in the body. Gout attacks may be triggered by any of the following:
You are at higher risk for gout if you:
Gout causes sudden, recurrent attacks of symptoms that often occur without warning. Severe, chronic gout may lead to deformity. Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each person. Common symptoms include:
Some symptoms of gout can be like other health conditions. Make sure to see your health care provider for a diagnosis.
The process starts with a medical history and a physical exam. A fluid sample may be taken from the joint and checked for urate crystals.
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, your age, and your general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is. Treatment may include:
Talk with your health care providers about the risks, benefits, and possible side effects of all medications.
People with gout have a higher risk for kidney stones, due to crystal deposits in the kidneys. They can also have kidney damage. Crystal deposits in the joints can cause some disability due to stiffness and pain.
You can reduce the risk of future flare-ups of gout and decrease their severity by taking medications as prescribed. If you are given medication to take when a flare-up occurs, it is best to start the medication at the first sign of symptoms. Or, get medical attention at the first sign of symptoms. To help prevent episodes of gout:
If your symptoms get worse or you have new symptoms, let your health care provider know.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your health care provider:
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