What is Gout?

Gout is a kind of inflammatory arthritis with symptoms including hot, red, swollen or tender joints. Sudden and severe pain can occur in the joint, usually the big fingers, wrists, elbows, knees and feet.

While gout doesn’t cause lasting damage, it’s important to seek urgent medical help if the pain becomes unbearable as this could be a sign of an infection inside the joint.
Changing your diet and lifestyle can show positive improvements for a condition such as gout. Gout is most commonly known as a form of arthritis associated with “high living” and is the accumulation of crystals of uric acid around the joint. The build-up of uric around joints causes pain that can feel debilitating.

gout in the feet

What Is Uric Acid?

Uric acid is a by-product of the breakdown of certain foods within the body. Gout is now considered to be a problem with uric acid excretion from the body and is one of the most common reasons for the condition to occur. Gout attacks come unexpectedly, but can subside again within a few days when given treatment. In the Western World, Gout affects approximately 0.5% of the population.

People At Risk of Gout

Over 95% of gout sufferers are men over the age of 30. It’s also twenty times more likely to affect men than women. Being overweight and having high blood pressure are strongly associated with Gout. The typical profile of someone at risk of gout is an overweight man drinking excess amounts of alcohol, who regularly eats meat and loves rich foods. He may also have high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.Other people at risk of gout include women after the menopause, people taking diuretics (water tablets) for blood pressure, or who have high cholesterol levels. Overweight people and those drinking alcohol may also be more likely to have the condition.

Treatment For Gout

Frequent gout attacks may show you have a high level of uric acid in your blood. Following tests, your GP might suggest or prescribe medications such as Allopurinol and Febuxostat. This lowers uric acid levels, yet it needs to be taken long-term to manage the symptoms. A healthy diet that’s full of fresh fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and lean protein is recommended. Regular exercise – without putting too much pressure on the joints, drinking plenty of water and maintaining a healthy weight can all have a positive impact. Healthy lifestyle changes can stop or even prevent further gout attacks. Complications arise from frequent gout attacks as this can cause permanent damage to the joint. This is known as chronic gout. This causes tiny white lumps (tophi) to appear under the skin, ears, fingers or elbows. Painful urate crystals can then form under the skin. If uric acid levels are very high, kidney stones can occur. Treatment may then e required to reduce uric acid levels. If you’re at all concerned about or feel you may have gout, it’s essential to go to your GP who can help to prevent or stop further attacks.