Gout is actually a form of arthritis. It can cause an attack of sudden burning pain, stiffness, and swelling in a joint, usually a big toe. These attacks can happen over and over unless gout is treated. Over time, they can harm your joints, tendons, and other tissues. Gout is most common in men.
How Does Gout Occur?
Gout is caused by too much uric acid in the blood. Most of the time, having too much uric acid is not harmful. Many people with high levels in their blood never get gout. But when uric acid levels in the blood are too high, the uric acid may form hard crystals in your joints.
Who Can Get Gout?
Anyone can get gout, but your chances of getting are higher if you are overweight, drink too much alcohol, or eat too much meat and fish that are high in chemicals called purines. Some medicines, such as water pills (diuretics), can also bring on gout.
Symptoms of Gout
The most common sign of gout is a nighttime attack of swelling, tenderness, redness, and sharp pain in your big toe. You can also get gout attacks in your foot, ankle, or knees. The attacks can last a few days or many weeks before the pain goes away. Another attack may not happen for months or years.
See your doctor even if your pain from gout is gone. The buildup of uric acid that led to your gout attack can still harm your joints.
How is Gout Diagnosed?
Your health care provider will ask questions about your symptoms and do a physical exam. Your health care provider may also take a sample of fluid from your joint to look for uric acid crystals under a microscope. This is the best way to test for gout. They may also do a blood test to measure the amount of uric acid in your blood.
How is Gout Treated?
Gout can be treated by steroids, either by injection or orally – sometimes both. To ease the pain during a gout attack, rest the joint that hurts. Taking ibuprofen or another anti-inflammatory medicine can also help you feel better. But don’t take aspirin. It can make gout worse by raising the uric acid level in the blood.
To prevent future attacks, your doctor can prescribe a medicine to reduce uric acid buildup in your blood. If your doctor prescribes medicine to lower your uric acid levels, be sure to take it as directed. Most people continue to take this medicine for the rest of their lives.
What Foods Should You Limit If You Are Prone To Gout Attacks?
- Organ meats, such as liver, kidneys, sweetbreads, and brains
- Meats, including bacon, beef, pork, and lamb
- Game meats
- Any other meats in large amounts
- Anchovies, sardines, herring, mackerel, and scallops
Foods to eat occasionally (moderately high in purines, but may not raise your risk of gout):
- Fish and seafood (other than high purine seafood)
- Oatmeal, wheat bran, and wheat germ
The Gout Diet:
- Choose complex carbohydrates. Eat more whole grains and fruits and vegetables and fewer refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, cakes and candy.
- Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Some studies have shown that low-fat dairy products can help reduce the risk of gout.
- Drink plenty of fluids, particularly water. Fluids can help remove uric acid from your body. Aim for 8 to 16 glasses a day. A glass is 8 ounces (237 milliliter).
Make an appointment to see you healthcare provider if you think you may be suffering from gout.