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Gout- Its Painful Effects and TreatmentWhat it is and How to Avoid itCarl Kolchak, Yahoo Contributor Network
Gout is one of the most painful conditions that has afflicted man down through the ages. Many people suffer from gout, have been diagnosed with it, and still do not fully understand what it is that is causing them such severe discomfort. gout is a condition brought about by the deposit of uric acid crystals in various tissues of the body, almost always in a joint. Seventy five percent of those who have gout get it at one point or another in one or both of their big toes. Gout is actually a form of arthritis, the most common one in fact, but it can be controlled in many instances by the proper diet and medications.
Acute gouty arthritis, or gout for short, affects over a million people in the United States alone, with men being nine times more likely to be a victim than women. Gout is the result of a metabolic defect that produces too much uric acid in the body, or makes it difficult for the kidneys to get rid of uric acid. The defect's cause is unknown, but where the uric acid comes from is. Uric acid is a breakdown product of purines, an organic compound present in many of the foods we eat. Under normal conditions, uric acid passes through your kidneys after it is dissolved in your blood. But when a person has an elevated level of uric acid, they have hyperuricemia, which doesn't automatically translate into an attack of the gout.
When gout does develop, it is very agonizing. The uric acid crystals are deposited onto the cartilage of joints. These sharp almost needle-like crystals are called urate, and they build up to cause swelling, inflammation, and tenderness in the spot when it is moved. A case of acute gouty arthritis comes on all of a sudden, and just a few joints are affected; often only one, with the big toes a favorite target. These attacks can be over in a few days, but they may recur at random intervals. Gout pain often begins at night, and is for the most part described as a throbbing, crushing, or severe soreness. The affected joint will appear to be infected, red, warm, and very tender. Ankles, feet, knees, wrists, and hands can all be subject to an attack of the gout, and gout pain can be so bad that the person is unable to function normally until the attack subsides. A fever may a symptom that goes along with the gout, along with a skin lump in the attack zone that can ooze a chalky white substance on occasion. Just the weight of a sheet or a blanket at night on an area attacked by gout can be more than a person can bear.
Fortunately for gout's many sufferers, there is medication available to ease the discomfort and swelling that accompany an attack. One such drug is colchicine, which can start working in as little as twelve hours and rid the patient of all symptoms in two days. Colchicine works by decreasing the inflammation, but it cannot lower uric acid levels in the blood. Used daily, colchicine can prevent future attacks of gout. If taken right after an attack of gout, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be very useful in treating pain and swelling in the affected area. Injected corticosteroids may be an option your doctor will discuss with you as well. Hyperuricemia can cause kidney stones in addition to the gout; your physician will be wary of this happening if you suffer from this condition.
Men will develop gout earlier than women, usually between the ages of 40 and 50; women that get gout will do so in most cases after menopause. One out of five people with gout will have a family history of the affliction. If you are overweight, have high blood pressure, or drink alcohol in excess, you increase your risk of gout. If you have had a gout attack, your doctor will probably tell you to avoid foods high in purines. On that list are liver, kidneys, many kinds of fish, bacon, veal, venison, turkey, peas, lentils, beans, and the alcohol, especially beer. Your physician will also advise you to keep up an adequate intake of fluids. Gout may sound like a relatively simple and harmless condition, but ask anyone that has ever had to endure an attack and they will assure that it is a most unpleasant experience.
Published by Carl Kolchak
I am a freelance article writer married for 15 years to my fabulous wife, Dianne. I live in Connecticut with Dianne and two dogs, along with our cat. I love to write about landscaping, greyhound racing, baseb... View profile
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