Gout Signs Are More Serious Than Many People Think
An attack of arthritis that seemingly develops overnight is one of the many gout signs that should not be ignored. High uric acid levels are the underlying cause of gout getting worse over time. It leaves behind uric acid crystals that settle in the joints. One or both big toes are the most common to suddenly inflame and become very painful.
Uric acid crystals do not just gather in big toes. Pain and inflammation from the build up of excess uric acid crystals are also likely to occur in joints from the toes to the knees as well as from the hands to the elbows. They can also cause pain in other areas, but a swollen, red and painful big toe that comes on overnight is the most common first sign of gout.
Causes of Gout
The exact cause of gout for every patient is not known, but an examination by a medical doctor will likely reveal something that will be very helpful in formulating a treatment plan. Diets that include a lot of meat (including seafood), especially meat high in purines, exacerbate issues with proper elimination of uric acid. Juvenile gout is referred to as Lesch-Nyhan or Kelley-Seegmiller syndrome. The lack of the hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (HGPRT) enzyme leads to gout signs. Medications, surgery, losing weight too fast, excessive alcohol intake and obesity can also lead to gout signs that flare up suddenly.
Gout Treatment Options
The approach to treating gout is twofold. The first phase is treating an acute attack of gout. This includes rest, anti-inflammatory medications and cold compresses to reduce swelling. The focus is then shifted to correcting or treating the suspected underlying cause of the gout flareup. This may include losing weight, cutting back drastically on animal flesh products, altering current types or dosages of medications a patient is already taking as well as possibly adding a medication to lower uric acid levels in the blood stream.
Long Term Gout Concerns
Tophi (singular is tophus) are caused when uric acid crystals build up in a joint to the point of deforming it. The build up can be severe enough to cause destruction of the bone and visible deformation of the joint area. Tophi can lead to disability of the affected joints. Kidney damage from chronic high uric acid levels can also occur. Though gout flareups can be treated, the goal is to keep uric acid levels as close to normal for the long term to prevent further damage to joints and kidneys.
Diet is a very big issue when it comes to gout. However, doctors are also aware that diet is one area of control they absolutely do not have with their patients. The low incidence of dietary compliance may lead physicians to just prescribe medications in hopes of preventing acute flareups that lead to lost work and recreational time and extreme pain. Patients who feel they have the discipline to alter their diets to comply with recommendations to lower uric acid levels should ask for a consult with a trained medical dietary expert. Though medications can clear up an acute attack and possibly prevent a future attack, they all have their own possibly serious side effects. Dietary changes are safe and effective but require discipline.