Gout: What It Is And How To Prevent It

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Gout is a painful form of arthritis.

It affects more than 3 million Americans

It causes very painful, swollen, red, hot and stiff joints. A joint that Is commonly affected are the big toe, but other joints such as the knees, wrists, fingers, and elbows can also get gout.

Gout occurs when excess uric acid (a normal waste product) collects in the body, and crystals develop in the joints. This may happen because either uric acid production increases or is not removed from the body.

Certain foods and drugs may raise uric acid levels and lead to gout attacks. These include:

  • Shellfish and red meats
  • Alcohol in excess
  • Sugary drinks and foods
  • Certain medications

People who are at highest risk for Gout are:

  • Men
  • Family history of gout
  • Obese
  • Those who drink alcohol
  • Eat too many foods rich in purines

Diagnosis of gout can be made in several ways. It’s often diagnosed by finding uric acid crystals in the joint – this often done by using a needle to extract fluid from the joint and evaluating the fluid to see if crystals are present. It can also be diagnosed base on the joints involved, the symptoms, time course, blood tests and imaging.

There are medications to treat gout attacks when they occur and to try to prevent them from coming on. But treatment may be different for each person.

Losing weight, avoiding alcohol and decreasing sugary drinks and foods high in purines can be helpful to prevent gout attacks!

Dr. Caudle answers your Text Tom questions below:

WHY DOES IT OFTEN START IN THE BIG TOE?

The answer is likely multifactorial. Some of the reasons include the susceptibility of this joint to develop arthritis. But other factors include the temperature of the foot and its susceptibility to injury which may affect urate solubility and how crystals form.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO DIE FROM GOUT IF LEFT UNTREATED?

Gout won’t necessarily kill you, but it can cause other health conditions that may eventually lead to death.

WHY ARE SO MANY MORE YOUNGER PEOPLE, EVEN MILLENIALS, GETTING GOUT?

A: Risk factors for gout include:

  • Male gender
  • Family history of gout
  • Obese
  • Those who drink alcohol
  • Eat too many foods rich in purines
  • High intake of sugary drinks/foods

It is possible for younger individuals to get gout as well, but the condition does mostly affect those in middle age.

DOES GOUT AFFECT A CERTAIN AGE RANGE?

Men tend to get gout between the ages of 30-50. Women tend to develop gout a little later, often after menopause.

DOES A WHEAT ALLERGY CAUSE GOUT?

Wheat allergy is not thought to be a cause of gout.

 IS GOUT A PERMANENT CONDITION?

Gout is definitely treatable, and possibly curable, but it is important to get the right treatment.

I’M A 32 YEAR-OLD BLACK MALE AND I’VE BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH GOUT AND HAVE BEEN PRESCRIBED MEDICATION FOR IT. I WOULD HAVE A FLARE UP EVERY THREE MONTHS, BUT ONCE I STARTED TAKING NEW MEDICATION I WOULD HAVE A FLARE UP ONCE A WEEK SO I STOPPED TAKING THE MEDICINE AND HAVEN’T HAD A FLARE UP SINCE. BUT MY DOCTOR IS INSISTING THAT I TAKE MY MEDICATION BECAUSE I NEED TO LOWER MY URIC ACID LEVELS, HOW CAN I REDUCE MY URIC ACID LEVELS WITHOUT THE MEDICATION?

You should really speak with your doctor about this, since a medication was prescribed..

IN ADDITION TO MEDICATION, WHAT KINDS OF FOODS OR DRINKS WOULD HELP END A GOUT ATTACK?

Losing weight, avoiding alcohol and decreasing sugary drinks and foods high in purines can be helpful to prevent gout attacks!

Dr. Jen is a Board-Certified Family Physician and Associate Professor at Rowan University. She frequently appears as a health expert on The TODAY Show, Dr. Oz Show, Steve Harvey Show, Fox News, CNN, HLN and others.

 

 

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