Characteristics of gout are abrupt, intense attacks of pain, redness and tenderness in joints, very often found in the joint at the base of the big toe.
Gout is a very complex form of arthritis and it can affect anyone. Men are more likely to develop gout, but an increased risk of gout is present in women after menopause.
An extreme attack of gout can cause a person to wake up at night with an intense burning sensation in the big toe. The joint affected by gout is extremely hot, very swollen and so sensitive that even the weight of the sheet on it may cause high levels of discomfort.
Fortunately, there are ways to treat gout and also methods of minimizing the risk of it occurring in the future.If gout is left untreated, it can damage the joints, tendons, and other tissues.
Symptoms of gout:
Most of the time, the symptoms of gout are very sudden and painful. It often occurs in the middle of the night and can be so painful that it wakes you from your sleep. Symptoms include:
- Extreme joint pain
The most common place where gout is found is in the joint at the base of the big toe. It can however occur in many other places such as the rest of the feet, ankles, knees, hands and fingers, and of course the joints located in the wrists.
It has been found that the pain is at its worst round about 12 to 24 hours after it has first started.
- Constant discomfort
After the worst pain has gone away, discomfort is still felt in the joints. This discomfort might be present for a few days or sometimes even a few weeks. Gout that appears after the initial attack is likely to last longer and be more widely spread than the first time.
- Redness and inflammation
The involved joints become swollen sensitive and red.
When should a doctor be consulted?
As soon as you feel a very sudden and extreme pain attack in a joint, it is best to contact your doctor.
If gout is left untreated it can lead to even more pain and permanent damage to the joint.
If you have developed a fever and if you have a joint that feels like it is on fire accompanied by sharp pain attacks, it could very well be a sign of infection and a doctor should be contacted immediately
Gout is caused by the accumulation of urate crystals in a joint, which results in inflammation and extreme pain.
Urate crystals form due to high levels of a substance called "uric acid" in the blood stream.
Uric acid is produced by the body when it breaks down purines, which are substances that can be found in the body. Purines can also be found in certain types of food namely: organ meats, herring, anchovies mushrooms as well as asparagus. Other foods that lead to high levels of uric acids are those that get turned into high concentrations of glucose in the body. These include sugary drinks, bread, white rice and pasta. This also includes beverages that contain alcohol, as alcohol also results in high amounts of glucose.
Under normal circumstances uric acid will dissolve in your blood and will get filtered by the kidneys where after it is excreted from the body through urination. Sometimes too much uric acid is produced or not enough uric acid is excreted by the kidneys. This is then what ultimately causes gout. Sharp crystals form in the joint or the tissue surrounding the joint which causes the swelling, inflammation and extreme pain.
Complications caused by gout:
Gout can lead to more severe conditions, for example:
- Recurrent gout
Some people may never experience any symptoms of gout after the first time, whereas other may suffer from the effects of it several times per year. People with recurrent gout can prevent gout attacks from returning by using medication.
- Advanced gout
Gout that is left untreated can cause urate crystal deposits to form underneath the skin in nodules referred to as "tophi" (pronounced TOE-fi). Tophi can develop in a variety of parts such as your fingers, hands, feet, elbows or Achilles tendons. Tophi usually are not painful, but during gout attacks they become sensitive and swollen.
- Kidney stones
People with gout may experience urate crystals forming in the urinary tract, resulting in kidney stones. The risk of developing kidney stones can be reduced by using the correct medication.
Conventional Gout Treatment:
A complete cure for gout has not yet been found, but gout can be greatly reduced through several conventional methods. Most of the time doctors prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as "ibuprofen" which helps lessen the inflammation and pain.
Corticosteriods are used to gain a similar affect; these are given by means of oral medication (pills) or injections. Other medications help lower the levels of uric acid in the blood with the best known probably being allopurinol (Zyloprim). Note that these methods should be used as a last resort since they can all cause significant side effects.
Natural Gout Treatment:
Like most diseases these days, gout is usually due to factors in a person's lifestyle. This means that following an anti-inflammatory eating plan and making lifestyle changes should be the first step to take in battling gout. The following factors should be taken into account:
- Meats that contain high levels of uric acid should be avoided. These meats include anchovies, sardines and organ meats.
In the past, doctors thought plant foods that are high in purine, such as: lentils, peas, mushrooms and spinach was the cause of gout but recent studies have shown that there is no connection between eating these foods and gout attacks.
- Eliminate caffeine from your diet.
- Minimize alcohol intake. Alcohol causes dehydration and results in irritation in the urinary tract.
- Drink 2 liters of water per day. The easiest way to keep track of your daily water intake is to drink 8 (250 ml) glasses of water per day. The water helps flush out urate crystal build-up.
- When you are overweight, it is very important to lose the extra weight first.
- Consume tart cherries - fresh, juiced or as cherry extract. Studies show that tart cherries suppress enzymes called cyclooxygenase-1 and -2, which are the targets of anti-inflammatory medicines.
- Take the Manna pH Balance Supplement, with papaya seed extract, to excrete excess uric acid from the body as well as to balance the pH levels of the body.
- Follow the Alkaline recipes as given in the free Acid/Alkaline e-book.
Risk factors of gout:
High levels of uric acid in the blood stream increases the risk of developing gout. There are various factors that increase uric acid levels in the body, such as:
- Lifestyle factors
Day to day lifestyle choices could increase the risk of developing gout. One of the main factor that is often overlooked is alcohol consumption. Excessive alcohol use is generally defined as more than 2 drinks per day for men and more than 1 drink per day for women.
- Medical conditions
Some diseases or medical conditions increase the possibility of developing gout. Such conditions include untreated high blood pressure and chronic ailments such as diabetes, high fat levels and cholesterol levels in the blood (hyperlipidemia), and narrowing in the arteries (arteriosclerosis).
Use of medication such as:
- Thiazide diuretics which is typically used for the treatment of hypertension.
- Low-dose aspirin which can increase uric acid levels.
- Anti-rejection drugs prescribed for people who have undergone an organ transplant.
- Genetic history of gout
If there have been cases of gout in your family history, the risk of you developing gout is higher.
- Age and sex
Gout is more often found in men than it is found in women, mainly due to the fact that women usually have much lower levels of uric acid than men do. After menopause, women are more likely to develop gout than in earlier years, as there is an increase in uric acid levels. In men, however, gout tends to develop between the ages of 40 and 50 years instead of later in life.
Tests and diagnosis of gout:
Different tests exist which can be used to diagnosed gout, such as:
- Joint fluid test
A needle can be used to extract fluid from the affected joint. This joint fluid is then examined under a microscope where, if present, urate crystals can be identified.
- Blood test
Blood tests are done to measure the uric acid levels in the bloodstream. This cannot solely be trusted to determine gout, as some people have high levels of uric acid, but never develop gout. The opposite is true, where some people show symptoms of gout but their uric acid levels are not abnormally high.