Recognizing the Lesser Known Symptoms of Gout
Gout is a type of arthritis that is becoming more common in the U.S. According to WebMD, an estimated 8.3 million people in the U.S. suffer from gout. The disease is likelier to affect men than women, and the risks increase as people age.
Once a person develops gout, there is no cure for the condition. However, it is possible for people to manage their symptoms by taking the medications that are recommended by their doctors and making several changes to their lifestyles.
What Is Gout?
Gout is a form of arthritis in which uric acid crystals build up in the joints. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that gout commonly affects one joint at a time and is quite painful.
Gout is cyclical and has periods of remission in between flare-ups of the symptoms. When people suffer multiple flare-ups, gout may develop into gouty arthritis, which is a type of arthritis that worsens.
It is possible for people to manage their symptoms. However, there is no cure for the condition.
Gout is characterized by a sudden onset of a flare-up, which can last for as long as several weeks. The condition will normally only affect one joint, and it is often the big toe. It might also affect the ankle, knee and other toe joints. The affected joint may cause the following symptoms:
- Intense pain
If people experience these types of symptoms in a single joint, they should talk to their doctors to learn whether they might have gout.
The primary cause of gout is a condition called hyperuricemia. This is a condition in which the blood has a concentration of uric acid that is too high. The uric acid may then form crystals that are deposited in the joints, leading to gout.
The causes of hyperuricemia leading to gout include the following:
- Alcohol intake
- Using diuretics
- Congestive heart failure
- Eating a diet that contains a high amount of purines
According to the Mayo Clinic, the medical treatments for gout involve taking various medications. The medication that a doctor might recommend will depend on the patient’s overall health and his or her preferences. People may be prescribed medications to help to prevent attacks in the future as well as to manage the symptoms during a flare-up.
There are three primary types of medications that a doctor might prescribe during a gout attack to help people to manage their symptoms.
A doctor may prescribe a higher dose of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or sodium naproxen during the acute stage of a flare-up followed by lower doses for the remaining time of the attack. He or she may also prescribe colchicine, which is a pain-relieving medication that has been shown to work for gout pain. Corticosteroids may also be prescribed to help to reduce the swelling and inflammation in the affected joint. The corticosteroids might be in pill form or injected by a doctor directly into the affected joint.
Doctors may also prescribe medications to help to prevent complications from gout. These may include drugs that block the production of uric acid such as allopurinol or febuxostat. These medications help to decrease the level of uric acid in the blood. Medications that enhance the body’s ability to remove uric acid, including lesinurad and probenecid, may also be prescribed. These medications work by increasing the uric acid concentration in the urine while decreasing it in the blood.
There are also some lifestyle changes that doctors might recommend as ways to help patients to manage their gout symptoms and prevent flare-ups. Doctors may recommend that people limit their intake of alcohol and sugary drinks. They should instead make certain to drink plenty of water and other beverages that do not contain alcohol. Gout patients may also be told to limit their intake of foods that are high in purines. These include red meat, seafood, and organ meats. Finally, if the patients are overweight, the doctors may recommend that they go on diets, lose weight and begin exercising regularly.
Gout is a painful condition that is incurable. It is possible for people to manage the symptoms that they might experience by following their doctor’s recommendations. In addition to taking medications to reduce the pain and swelling during flare-ups, doctors may also prescribe medications to help to prevent complications and future flare-ups. By limiting alcohol intake and losing weight, gout patients may also help to reduce the number of gout attacks that they might suffer in the future. People should talk to their doctors to learn more about gout and to obtain proper diagnoses.