Once the body breaks down purines, it results to the formation of uric acid. It is important to note that the uric acid dissolves in the blood and passes via the kidneys and into urine to be flushed out of the body.
In case the kidneys could not properly eliminate uric acid or if there is excessive intake of high-purine foods, the uric acid starts to crystallize. The formed uric acid builds up in the kidneys and leads to the formation of stones or gathers in the joints and causes the development of gout. The symptoms tend to vary from one individual to another depending on the degree of the condition. Some individuals who have high levels of uric acid might not experience any symptoms at all.
Once the uric acid crystals accumulate into the joints, the gout symptoms will surely manifest. The typical joint symptoms of gout include inflammation, pain, redness, swelling and tenderness. In most cases, the affected joint also feels warm to the touch. These symptoms typically start all of a sudden without warning at night time that can disrupt sleep.
What are the commonly affected joints?
The initial gout attack develops in the big toe. Other joints in the body that are affected by gout include the knees, ankles, fingers, heels, wrists and elbows. During the first gout attack, it is quite common for the individual to experience symptoms in one joint while future attacks can involve more than just one joint.
How long do the symptoms last?
The severe pain in the joint typically peaks within the initial 12-24 hours after the start of the symptoms. Once the intense pain subsides, the discomfort in the joint might linger for several days up to a few weeks. The episodes that occur in the future can cause the pain to persist further than the initial gout attack. If proper treatment is not started or repeated attacks are allowed to occur, the uric acid can lead to permanent damage to the joint.
What are the skin symptoms?
After years of repeated gout attacks, the uric acid crystals might start to form lumps under the skin. The non-painful lumps or tophi typically occur on the fingers, hands, toes and elbows. During an attack, the tophi can end up evidently swollen and tender.
In case the uric acid crystals accumulate in the urinary tract, it can result to the development of kidney stones. The kidney stones due to uric acid are quite common among men than women. The kidney stones can cause symptoms such as pain in the abdomen, back or groin as well as nausea, fever, chills, blood-streaked urine and vomiting.
If any of these symptoms are present, it simply indicates that the level of uric acid in the body is elevated. With this in mind, consulting a doctor is the next best step to take.