Everything you need to know about gouty arthritis
What is gout?
People suffering from gout either produce a lot of uric acid, or more commonly, their kidneys are just not adequate in removing it. There are many possible results of this uric acid buildup in the body, including chronic and acute gouty arthritis, local deposits of uric acid in the skin and other tissues and kidney stones. Gout can occur all by itself, called as primary gout or can also be linked with some other medical conditions or medications, known as the secondary gout.
Signs and symptoms of gout
Gout is a kind of arthritis which causes inflammation, generally in 1 joint, which starts suddenly. It is caused by the deposition of the crystals of uric acid in the joint. It can cause signs and symptoms like:
- Joint redness
- Nodules under skin known as tophi
- Swollen joints
- Warmth of the joint, and
- Joint paint
The most dependable method of diagnosing gout is to have fluid removed from the inflamed joint and examined under a microscope for the crystals of uric acid. The treatment of chronic gout is done by medications which lower the level of uric acid in the body. In case gout is left untreated, it can lead to irreversible joint damage, tophi and kidney problems. Triggers for the acute attacks of gout may include dehydration, surgery, and high fructose corn syrup, beverages sweetened with sugar, liquor, beer, seafood and red meat. Cherries can help in preventing gout attacks.
Cause of gout
Too much of uric acid in the blood causes gout. Uric acid comes from 2 places- it is produced by the body itself and it comes from the diet. Any additional uric acid generally filters by the kidneys and gets passes in the urine. In case the body produces a lot of uric acid and fails to excrete it out in urine, crystals of mono-sodium urate gets formed in the tendons and joints. These crystals lead to intense inflammation resulting in redness, pain and swelling.
The signs and symptoms of an acute gout attack are just very clear that a doctor can in, usual cases be very sure of the diagnosis only from the physical exam and the history. Blood tests showing hyperuricemia can support the diagnosis, however, it is not really necessary. For confirming the diagnosis, your doctor may insert a needle in the joint and take out some fluid for examining under a microscope. In case it is gout, needle-shaped crystals of uric acid will be visible when the fluid is viewed in polarizing light.
Prevention and treatment
Medical treatment aims at relieving the inflammation and the pain of the acute attacks and preventing the occurrence of any future attacks. Lifestyle and diet changes also aid in preventing future attacks of gout. Without any treatment, it can take more than a week for the symptoms of gout attack for subsiding. The gout attacks can recur. At first, the time between the attacks can be as long as many months or even years. But, with time, the attacks tend to occur more frequently and are more severe. There are different types of medications for treating gout
- Medications for reducing the pain.
- Colchicine helps in blocking the production of the uric acid.
- Corticosteroids like prednisone can be given in the tablet form for helping in reducing the inflammation and pain.
Drinking additional fluids (especially water) while taking the medications is recommended. The impacted joints should be elevated and rested. Preventing the attacks of gout is just as important as treating its symptoms. The ways of preventing gout include lifestyle changes and use of medications.