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A gout is a complex form of arthritis characterized by sudden onset of pain. Arthritis is caused here by an excess of uric acid in the blood, a symptom of which is the formation of uric acid crystals in the joints.
The disease affects the joints and musculoskeletal system, is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis in men – for it is among them, the disease usually occurs. Women, in turn, are more susceptible to gout after menopause.
Gout most often affects the big toe. The emergence of the disease is characterized by sudden and severe pain, redness and tenderness of the joints at the base of the finger.
The causes of gout
Gout is caused by excess uric acid in the blood – the so-called hyperuricemia. Uric acid is produced in the body of purine – specific chemical compounds, which can be found in large quantities in certain foods as meat, poultry or seafood.
Typically, uric acid dissolves in the blood and is cleared by the body as urine through the kidneys. In a situation where the body produces too much uric acid (or not enough) can form needle crystals, which cause inflammation and pain in the joints and tissues surrounding them.
There are many factors which may increase the likelihood of disease:
- age and sex – men produce more uric acid than women, but menopausal women also increase its amount;
- genetics – the appearance of gout in the immediate family, may increase the likelihood of its occurrence;
- lifestyle – people who drink excessive amounts of alcohol can interfere with the removal of uric acid from the body;
- diet – rich in purine increases the amount of uric acid in the body;
- exposure to lead – some cases of gout associated with chronic exposure to this element;
- taking medications – some medications can increase the concentration of uric acid in the body – mainly diuretics and containing salicylate;
- weight – overweight people are at increased risk of gout since excess weight makes uric acid, is an excessive amount of metabolic waste; higher levels of fat, may further increase the susceptibility to inflammation because they produce proinflammatory cytokines;
- other health problems – kidney failure and other diseases, can reduce the body’s ability to remove waste products, which increases the level of uric acid.
The symptoms of gout
The symptoms of gout usually occur suddenly and without any warning, often in the middle of the night. The main symptoms are severe joint pain, discomfort, inflammation and redness. The disease often affects the big toe joint, but often appear also in the area of the ankles, knees, elbows, wrists and fingers.
Can distinguish four stages of gouty arthritis, which are characterized by different symptoms:
- asymptomatic gout – where elevated levels of uric acid, shows no signs of external; treatment at this stage is not necessary; however, urate crystals may cause micro-traumas;
- acute gout – gout crystals located at the points of the body, begin to cause sudden and severe inflammation and pain – occur every 3-10 days; very often, it triggers stress, alcohol, and other stimulants or low temperatures;
- gout between acute attacks of gout – inflammation that occurs between attacks may last for months or years, with the passage of time can last longer and occur more frequently;
- chronic gout – is the most destructive form of the disease, which may cause a permanent kidney damage and arthritis; the patient may appear chronic inflammation and develop tophi – big lumps of uric acid crystals in the colder regions of the body as finger joints; the stage takes an average of 10 years of ineffective treatment and is rather rare.
Diagnosis and treatment of gout
The diagnosis is not easy, especially because in the first stage, the disease does not give obvious symptoms. Are carried out tests for the presence of uric acid in the blood or synovial fluid is taken, which checks the presence of urate crystals.
Some infections can appear similar to gout, so you should eliminate other potential causes by making a particular study.
Most cases are treated pharmacologically. Medications are meant to mitigate the symptoms of the disease or prevent or reduce the risk of complications. In the treating, a condition is used anti-inflammatory drugs, colchicine, and corticosteroids. It is also recommended to drink plenty of water, avoiding alcohol, taking care of the correct body weight and a balanced diet, which limits the fish, meat, and poultry.