What you need to know about gout
Gout is one of the most painful forms of arthritis.
It occurs when too much uric acid builds up in the body, according to the National Institute of Health. Acute gout can reveal itself in red, hot and swollen joints.
“Gout is a condition in which people can feel excruciating pain,” says Dr. Dennis Levinson, rheumatologist at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago. “This is something that is very difficult to go through.”
What causes Gout?
Certain common medications, alcohol and foods are known to be contributing factors. According to the Arthritis Foundation, sugary beverages as well as red meat, organ meats and shellfish can trigger gout.
How bad is the pain?
Usually, the pain occurs on the big toe, but it can also affect feet, ankles, knees and hands, says Dr. Levinson. The attacks, which typically occur suddenly during the night, cause the joints to become swollen, tender and red.
Severe attacks can last as long as a few weeks, while acute symptoms become lingering discomfort for a few days.
How is gout diagnosed?
An X-ray is used to determine if there is joint inflammation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ultrasounds are often the next step to detect urate crystals in the joint.
If necessary, doctors may also draw fluid from joints or recommend a blood test to test the creatinine levels, says Dr. Levinson.
How prevalent is gout?
The latest statistic shows 8.3 million U.S. adults have the condition, according to the CDC. Men accounted for 6.1 million of those affected, while women made up the remaining 2.2 million. Black men were diagnosed three times more than white men.
How is it treated?
The Arthritis Foundation offers these tips:
- Take an anti-inflammatory medication as soon as possible
- Ice and elevate the joint
- Drink plenty of fluids (no alcohol or sweet sodas)
- Call your doctor and make an appointment
- Relax; stress can aggravate gout
- Ask friends and family to help you with daily tasks
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care sites, also including freelance or intern writers.