When you hear the word gout, you may think about swelling and pain in the feet and ankles, but it is much more than that. Gout is a form of arthritis. It is an inflammatory disease that affects the joints in the body. The difference between gout and other forms of arthritis is that it attacks the ankles and feet more so than anything else. Gout attacks and then it goes away and attacks again, and eventually you feel relief again. This cycle is due to the primary cause of gout. The symptoms can be so severe that it becomes debilitating. There is treatment available for you. If you are suffering from gout, suffer no longer, you can be treated.
Arthritis is the inflammation of the joints. The body’s immune system attacks its joints. For one reason or another, the body thinks it is protecting itself by attacking the joints. It is not helping at all; it is harming. With arthritis comes a lot of stiffness and pain. Arthritis is a condition that affects millions of people. Sometimes it is mild and other times it is very severe. There are multiple types of arthritis. When you say you have arthritis, it is important to know which type. There are different mechanisms the body uses to attack the joints; therefore, there are different methods of treatment for each form of arthritis. Sometimes arthritis starts in your childhood, but for most people, symptoms do not occur until you are elderly. The longer the condition last without treatment, the worse off your joints will be. Sometimes the whole joint is destroyed and has to be replaced. Early treatment helps with preservation.
Cause of Gout
Gout is caused by the accumulation of uric acid in the joints. The uric acid crystallizes forming urate crystals. These crystals lead to inflammation, redness, and soreness. The more uric acid in the blood the higher the chance you will experience symptoms. Lowering the uric acid in the body helps to reduce the symptoms. The body naturally produces uric acid. After the breakdown of certain substances like steak and seafood, there is also an increase in uric acid. Alcohol is a major source as well. When uric acid reaches the blood, it dissolves. The kidneys also help to filter out any extra uric acid, and it gets emptied through urine. When you have gout, two things happen. Either the kidneys do not filter enough of it out of your system, or your body produces way too much of it. Either way, the uric acid increases, crystals form and symptoms result.
Gout symptoms are slightly different from other forms of arthritis. You can feel fine today, go to sleep, and wake up with gout pain. It can happen all of a sudden and cause severe pain. The first symptom is inflammation and tenderness. Along with that, you will see redness. The joints will inflame and may feel warm to the touch. Pain results. Most of the pain is felt in the big toe. The pain can spread into the foot and ankle. Hands and wrists are also affected. It is rare for the pain to happen in larger joints like the hips and knees. The inflammation limits your range of motion. Unfortunately, once the worst part of the pain subsides, it lingers. This lingering pain may last for weeks. You will be able to move better, but it is almost like you are trying to recover. The more attacks you have, the longer the symptoms may last.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosis is the first step of treatment. The doctor will first do a joint fluid test. The fluid will have crystals in it if you have gout. Blood tests are also done to check the uric acid levels in the blood. Imaging tests like ultrasound, CT scans, and X-rays also reveal a lot of things. When it comes to treatment, it is the little things you can do that will make a difference. Certain things increase your chance of gout. By avoiding those things, you can avoid the attacks and symptoms altogether. The first step of treatment is doing the things you can to prevent the increase of uric acid in the body. Diet is the first step. Try to avoid eating a lot of meat and seafood. It is good to avoid alcohol as well. Weight also plays a role. Being overweight causes uric acid to build up even more. Doctors will typically start with medication. NSAIDS like Motrin and Advil help with the pain and inflammation. Corticosteroids may also be used. They are not used often but in severe cases, they may be needed. Colchicine is another method of treatment that not only relieves pain but reduces pain specifically related to gout.
Gout affects millions of people. The pain and discomfort can affect your quality of life. Getting treatment for your symptoms helps to prevent the destruction of the joint completely. It is also good to try to change your diet and life a healthier lifestyle. You do not have to let gout ruin your life. Take control and get the help you need.
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