Gout is a type of arthritis triggered by the accumulation of uric acid inside the body which is a waste product of metabolism.
The condition is common among men but can occur in women as well. It is prevalent among men between ages 40-60. One is at higher risk if there is a family history. The risk factors might include a diet high in certain meats, seafood and alcohol, especially beer.
Even certain medications such as niacin, aspirin, diuretics and chemotherapy can also lead to the development of the condition. It is common for those with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cancer as well as psoriasis and diabetes.
What are the indications?
The indications usually occur abruptly and last for up to a week before it settles. In most cases, it includes significant joint pain, usually in the big toe and foot. The skin might appear reddened and shiny along with peeling or flaking of the skin.
The affected joint becomes swollen and might even feel itchy. Even though it usually affects the big toe, it can also occur in the ankles, heels, elbows, fingers or wrists.
Treatment for gout
The pain due to gout is alleviating the pain and managing the condition using both medications and lifestyle modifications such as a specific diet. The symptoms can be alleviated by keeping the foot raised while resting and apply an ice pack to cool the joint.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen can be used to reduce the pain. If these measures are not effective, the doctor might prescribe colchicine which alleviates the pain and swelling. In severe cases, corticosteroids are prescribed but these are not used on a long-term basis.
The changes in lifestyle must be implemented to prevent flare-ups. Eliminating or at least limiting the following might be beneficial:
- Limit meats in the diet including kidney, liver, turkey, venison and veal
- Vegetables such as asparagus, spinach and lentils
- Seafood such as mackerel, anchovies, herring, sardines, scallops and mussels
- Alcohol especially port and beer
- Any food that contains yeast extract such as marmite
It is also important to increase the intake of water. For those who are overweight, cutting down weight can help lower the uric acid levels as well as exercise.