Caused by the excess uric acid in the bloodstream and formation of uric acid crystals on the tissues and joints, gout is a form of arthritis that has been known to affect approximately 3.9% of the adult population in the country. Gouty arthritis is more prevalent among men than among women. Nearly 5.9% of men develop gout, while approximately 2% of women are affected by gout.
Causes of gout
The breakdown of purine in the body leads to the production of uric acid in the body. Purines are substances that naturally occur in the body. Food such as seafood, steak, and organ meat also contain purines. The consumption of alcoholic beverages and sweetened drinks also lead to the production of uric acid in the body.
Under normal circumstances, the uric acid produced in the body dissolves in the blood and passes through the kidneys. The uric acid is released from the body through urine. However, in some cases, there can be excess production of uric acid. In some cases, the kidneys are unable to pass the uric acid produced in the body. This leads to a buildup of uric acid, which crystallizes to form urate crystals in the tissues and joints. This causes inflammation of the joints, swelling, and pain.
Common signs and symptoms of gouty arthritis
Some of the usual symptoms of gout include redness and heat in the affected joints due to inflammation, sudden pain in the affected joints, and joint swelling.
- Extreme joint pain: In a majority of cases, gout occurs in the big toe, fingers, elbows, wrists, ankles, and knees. There can be episodes of intense joint pain. The pain is severe in first hours. The pain can last for around 12 hours.
- Joint discomfort: Extreme joint pain is often followed by joint discomfort. This can last for a couple of days or a few weeks. The intensity of pain and discomfort episodes become severe over time in the case of chronic gout.
- Redness: Inflammation causes tenderness of the joints and tissues. The affected joints become red and warm.
- Restricted movements: As the severity of gout increases, the above symptoms become severe as well. There will be extreme pain, swelling, and inflammation. This will limit the range of motion of the affected joints. A person affected by gout may find it difficult to move or work normally due to restricted movements.
- Fever: When gout is left untreated for a long time, the excess accumulation of uric acid may lead to infection. This may cause fever.
Risks factors for gout
People who have high levels of uric acid in their body are susceptible to gout. The following are some of the common risk factors for gout.
- Obesity: With excess weight, there is an excess production of uric acid in the body, which the kidneys are unable to process and pass.
- Medications: The use of certain medications such as thiazide diuretics, low-dose aspirin, and anti-rejection medications for an organ transplant can also increase the risk of gout.
- Diet: Excess consumption of alcohol, sweetened beverages, red meat, and seafood increases uric acid levels in the body.
- Chronic illnesses: Diabetes, untreated high blood pressure, kidney diseases, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease can also trigger gout.