Understanding Gout: Symptoms, Risk Factors And Prevention

Gout, what’s that about? Understanding gout beforehand can help in timely diagnosis and treatment. Are you at risk? Find out.

Gout is something that we’ve read about in school, mostly forgotten now. But it is a very real danger and not just something that happens to other people. It affects more men than women, although postmenopausal women are at a higher risk of developing it. Gout is essentially a kind of arthritis, caused by the excessive buildup of uric acid in our joints. Read on to know about gout symptoms, risk factors, prevention, and treatment.

The common symptoms of gout include:

Sudden and excruciating pain, warmth, swelling, and extreme tenderness in the big toe. It can also affect other joints, including knees, ankles, elbows, fingers, and thumbs. 
Red or purplish skin around the joint, making it appear infected.
Limited movement in that joint.
Nodules (tophi) on the hands, elbows, or ears. These are painless crystal lumps, which can also form kidney stones.
Persistent and lingering discomfort.

Am I at risk?

Yes, if you

Are obese.
Have moderate to heavy alcohol intake, especially of beer.
Have a high intake of purine-rich food such as some fish, seafood, and shellfish; bacon; turkey; veal; and organ meats such as liver, kidney, brains etc. 
Have high blood pressure.
Have abnormal kidney function.
Have diabetes.
Consume sugary beverages in excess.
Have recently had a surgery, or a severe illness.
Are undergoing, or have undergone chemotherapy.
Are taking certain medications that can cause gout.

How can I prevent it?

Have an adequate amount of water through the day.
Cut down on alcohol.
Reduce the intake of purine-rich foods.
Lose weight, if obese or overweight.
Be physically active. If you have gout, chose an activity that doesn’t put a strain on your joints, such as swimming.
Adequate dairy consumption.
Adequate amounts of vitamin C.
Coffee is known to reduce the levels of uric acid in the body.
Replace refined carbohydrates (sugar, white bread, potatoes, pasta) with complex carbohydrates (vegetables, whole grains).
Fresh cherries have been seen to reduce the risk of gout by 35 per cent, according to a study.

If you do have gout, or suspect that you do, go to a doctor as soon as possible. The treatment for gout can usually be managed with medications. If left untreated, gout can eventually damage your joints permanently. The deposition of uric acid in the kidneys can lead to kidney stones and decreased kidney function. Although gout is a chronic condition, it can be managed with treatment and lifestyle changes.

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