Gout is a complex form of arthritis that can affect anyone. However, sudden and severe attacks of the initial symptoms mostly affect men, while women become more susceptible to this inflammatory condition post menopause. Acute episodes of joint pain and swelling are some of the first signs and symptoms of gout.
When the body is unable to process high levels of uric acid produced, the acid buildup leads to the formation of monosodium urate crystals in the joints and surrounding tissue. These sharp needle-like crystals accumulate over time to cause intense pain and inflammation.
Obesity, dehydration, stress, and side effects of certain medications are risk factors that can cause gout. A rich diet and frequent consumption of alcohol will also lead to an increase in the uric acid levels to trigger a gout attack. You are more likely to develop this disorder if other members of your family have previously experienced the symptoms.
A gout attack most commonly affects the base joint of your big toe. Older people might experience symptoms in other places such as ankles, knees, wrists, hands, and elbows. Note that frequent and persistent symptoms of gout can lead to health complications like erosion and destruction of the joints, formation of Tophi (heavy deposits of Monosodium Urate), and kidney stones.
For effectively managing the symptoms of gout and to find viable treatment options, it is imperative to diagnose the condition first. Therapies and treatments are tailored to suit you, after considering factors like overall kidney function, health problems, and even personal preferences.
Blood tests are conducted to identify uric acid levels in the bloodstream and find crystal deposits in the joints. Ultrasound, X-rays, and dual-energy computed tomography are some of the various advanced imaging tests done to identify early joint problems caused due to a gout attack.
Often, mild and infrequent symptoms of gout can be treated with a healthy diet and lifestyle changes. These changes coupled with prescription medications to lower uric acid levels in the blood. While urate-lowering medications are effective for primary treatment, prophylactic medications are used to manage higher levels of uric acid to prevent gout flare-ups. To decrease pain and inflammation, a combination of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids is recommended.
Self-care remedies will also aid immensely in managing symptoms of gout. Staying hydrated will help if you are suffering from acute gout attacks. Eat healthily and exercise regularly to manage your weight. Losing weight will lower the chances of suffering from a gout attack even other health complications like developing heart diseases. You should also limit the consumption of food and drinks that are rich in purine, including red meat, organ meat, shellfish, and sugary beverages.
It is advisable to consult rheumatologist to prepare a gout management healthcare plan. Medical professionals like nurse practitioners will guide you to understand the condition better and help find ways to cope with the developing condition. Occupational therapists can provide you with additional equipment if needed, to manage acute and advanced gout attacks.