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Gout: symptoms and treatment

Gout is an inflammation of the joints caused by excessive deposits of urate crystals. It is painful and affects toes, elbow, knees and other parts of the body. The risk factors for the development of gout include certain cancers and blood disorders, specific foods and drugs, obesity, radiation treatment, and renal failure. Take a look whether you have the disorder and find out the treatment for gout conditions.

Recognising gout

Men are more often affected by gout compared to women. Usually, it is a condition which affects men mid life and for women, after menopause. Although it is not common before the age of 30, there are people affected by the disorder at this age. It is often an inherited condition and may be passed down from one generation to another.

Causes

Uric acid is present is small amounts in the body. It is in the blood and is a by-product of cell nucleic acid breakdown. In addition, the body transforms purines into uric acid. When the kidneys cannot eliminate enough uric acid through the urine, a high level of uric acid level in the blood occurs. As a result, urate crystals are deposited in the joints. Purine rich foods such as anchovies, consommé, asparagus, herring, sardines, sweet breads and mussels contribute to high levels of uric acid. Combining alcohol with purines also increases the presence of uric acid in the bloodstream.

Another cause of gout is an underlying disorder such as secondary gout where large amounts of uric acid are produced because of an inherited disorder like leukemia or an enzyme abnormality.

Symptoms

Acute gout attacks may occur without warning and may be triggered by surgery, injury, consumption of large quantities of alcohol and purine-rich foods, emotional stress, or illness. Severe and sudden pain occurs at one or more joints (typically at night). The pain gets worse and excruciating especially when the area is moved or touched. Redness, warmness and swelling of the affected area are other typical symptoms as well as fever and rapid heart beat.

Treatment

Once gout is diagnosed based on the above symptoms, the first step is to relieve pain and swelling through administration of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Sometimes, codeine and meperidine are given to the patient while the joint is immobilised with a splint to reduce pain. Corticosteroids are also prescribed to relieve pain and swelling,

Prevention of gout attacks is the next step by avoiding alcohol, purine-rich foods and losing weight (people who have gout are often overweight). Taking drugs such as probenecid and sulfinpyrazone help excrete uric acid. Urate stones in the kidneys can also be broken up and passed in the urine by using ultrasound.

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