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What Is Gout? – HealthyWomen

Medically reviewed by Paula Tanasa, M.D.

If you happen to’ve ever woken within the night time with a gout assault, or flare, you know the way painful it may be. Gout causes ache in joints, typically for the primary time within the massive toe — and this ache can come and go all through life. For some, managing these flare-ups may be difficult.

Right here’s what it’s essential learn about gout — what it’s, the way it’s managed and how one can take steps to forestall long-term issues.

What’s gout?

Gout is a kind of inflammatory arthritis that causes painful flare-ups. Though the principle symptom related to gout is ache within the joints, and mostly the large toe, gout is a critical illness that may have unfavourable impacts nearly anyplace within the physique. Gout can even flare up in your elbows, wrists, fingers, knees and ankles — and even your backbone. It occurs when there’s a buildup of uric acid within the blood that causes needle-like crystals to type within the bones, joints, kidneys, coronary heart and eyes, which may trigger injury over time.

Excessive ranges of uric acid don’t all the time imply you’ll get gout. Round 2 in 3 folks who’ve larger ranges of uric acid don’t have gout flares.

Gout impacts males extra typically however girls can get gout — 5 in 100 folks with gout are girls. It is because girls naturally have decrease uric acid ranges in comparison with males, and the feminine hormone estrogen helps the physique push uric acid out by way of urine. Ranges of uric acid are likely to rise after menopause when estrogen ranges drop, which will increase the probabilities of gout.

Prior to now, gout was known as a “illness of lords” or a “illness of kings,” because it was related to rich males. That has led to a variety of misconceptions and stigma surrounding the situation and many individuals struggling in silence or feeling blamed for dwelling with the illness.

Gout may be misdiagnosed as one other type of inflammatory arthritis resembling pseudogout, the place there’s joint ache and swelling, nevertheless it’s on account of calcium build-up, not uric acid.

How do you get gout?

Uric acid is produced in your physique when purines break down. Purines are discovered naturally within the physique, but in addition are in sure meals. Your kidneys usually flush out additional uric acid, but when they don’t, uric acid can construct up all through your physique. That’s why folks with continual kidney illness or lowered kidney operate have a better threat for gout.

Danger components for gout embody:

  • Genetics (a household historical past)
  • Sure well being circumstances like kidney illness, weight problems, metabolic syndrome or hypertension
  • Taking sure drugs, resembling immunosuppressants or diuretics (water capsules)
  • A weight-reduction plan wealthy in meals which are excessive in purines like crimson meat, liver, sure seafoods, alcohol and sugary drinks

Regardless of what folks suppose, weight-reduction plan is just not the principle reason behind gout, and many individuals who eat wholesome and don’t drink alcohol nonetheless develop gout. Genetics, household historical past and lowered kidney operate are the principle components resulting in the event of gout.

Sure communities of coloration are additionally at larger threat of the illness. Gout is commonest amongst Black People; Asian People and Asian Pacific Islanders even have a better threat of the illness.

What are the signs of gout?

Signs of gout embody:

  • Sudden and extreme ache, typically within the massive toe, but in addition within the small joints of the toes and palms, knees, ankles, wrists and elbows
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Heat

These signs are worse within the first 4 to 12 hours after they start. If gout is just not managed, flare-ups can begin taking place extra typically and last more.

It’s vital to deal with gout as a result of uncontrolled gout may cause different well being issues. These embody:

  • Joint and bone injury, together with erosion of the joints and bones
  • Joint nodules or gouty lumps, often known as tophi, on the fingers, palms, toes, elbows or again of the ankle. Tophi come from uric acid build-up that may get swollen and tender throughout flare-ups.
  • Kidney stones and growth or worsening of continual kidney illness from uric acid build-up within the urinary tract

The build-up of uric acid can result in everlasting injury within the bones and joints, in addition to a better threat of heart problems.

How lengthy does gout final?

Individuals with gout can expertise flares that final for 1 to 2 weeks. These typically observe a time frame with no signs, often known as remission. However, even once you’re not having a painful flare, the uric acid can nonetheless be increase within the physique.

A gout flare might solely occur as soon as in your life, or it might probably turn into continual and regularly worsen over time. This may trigger everlasting injury all through the physique after a number of years of no remedy.

How is gout handled?

Gout remedy includes managing flares and stopping future flares and long-term issues resembling joint injury. It’s a good suggestion to go to a gout specialist for those who’re having signs as a result of gout signs can appear like different inflammatory circumstances that trigger joint swelling, like rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatologists are medical doctors who focus on treating gout. Many nephrologists (kidney specialists) additionally deal with the illness due to its impression on the kidneys.

Completely different drugs can be utilized to deal with gout and stop long-term injury to your joints. Anti-inflammatory drugs resembling ibuprofen (Advil), steroids (as capsules or intra-articular injection, injected instantly into the joint house) or colchicine (a prescription anti-inflammatory) will help cut back ache and swelling throughout a flare-up. To deal with the foundation reason behind gout — extra uric acid — you’ll be able to take medication to decrease the uric acid ranges in your blood, which will help cut back the danger of issues.

There are additionally issues you are able to do by yourself to assist stop flare-ups, together with:

  • Weight-reduction plan modifications: Limiting high-purine meals and consuming an general nutritious diet of vegetables and fruit, entire grains, nuts and unprocessed meals.
  • Limiting alcohol consumption, particularly beer
  • Lowering the quantity of drinks that comprise excessive ranges of sugar, as analysis reveals it might probably contribute to uric acid manufacturing
  • Sustaining a wholesome weight by getting common train half-hour a day, 5 days every week that’s simple on the joints. This may embody strolling, biking and swimming.

Some folks might have gout that persists even after taking oral drugs. If that’s the case for you, it’s a good suggestion to ask your healthcare supplier about your different choices.

Tips on how to speak about gout along with your healthcare supplier

Preserve involved along with your HCP about your signs and advocate for what you want. It’s a good suggestion to maintain a log of your flares that features:

  • Ache depth
  • Location of the ache
  • When it began
  • Stressors you’re presently experiencing
  • The impression of flares in your work, relationships and each day life

Write down an inventory of questions you’ll be able to focus on along with your HCP. These may embody:

  • Is my uric acid degree regular and, if not, what can I do to decrease it?
  • What is perhaps inflicting my gout?
  • Ought to I see a rheumatologist?
  • What are the unwanted effects of the drugs you need me to take?
  • When ought to I see an enchancment in my signs?
  • How lengthy do I must be on remedy?
  • How can I handle my different well being circumstances with gout?
  • Are there assets you’ll be able to present to assist handle the situation?

There’s no treatment for gout, however working with an HCP to deal with the situation, taking drugs as directed and working towards self-management methods can all assist handle your situation.

This useful resource was created with assist from Horizon Therapeutics.

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