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What is gout?

If you want to know what is gout, here is a short primer to help you get started. The disease affects millions of people all over the world. The good news is, it is a curable and manageable illness. Below are symptoms and everything that you need to know to diagnose, treat and control the condition.

Understanding the disease

Gout is basically the inflammation of the joint and is characterised by pain. It happens because deposits of sodium urate crystal accumulate in the joints. This in turn is caused by high levels of uric acid.

  • Who are affected?

The disorder is more common in men than women. In men, it occurs during middle age whilst women, after menopause. It also runs in families. Those who are affected by the disease before 30 years have often severe symptoms of the disease.

  • Body parts that are attacked

The feet are the most affected when gout attacks occur. The base of the big toe are inflamed although it can also happen on the ankle, knee, wrist and elbow.

  • Causes

To fully understand what is gout, you have to be familiar with the causes as follows:

  • Increased levels of uric acid

Uric acid is already present in the blood in small amounts. However, when you eat purine rich foods, these are transformed by the body into uric acid. When the uric acid levels spike, the kidneys cannot cope with eliminating them through urine. As such, crystals form which are deposited in the joints. Moreover, alcohol consumption also increases the level of uric acid in the body which makes it harder for the kidney to eliminate excess levels.

  • Secondary gout

Another reason why you have gout is that it is a symptom of an underlying medical disorder. If you have leukaemia, large amounts of uric acid are produced. The presence of a kidney disease also contributes to the inability of the organ to eliminate uric acid in the body properly.

Treatment

To understand fully what is gout, you must also look at the treatment. Usually, the first step is to control the inflammation by taking analgesics or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Corticosteroids are also used to reduce swelling. The next step is to reduce recurrences and this can be done by changing diets, losing weight and avoiding alcohol. However, if you have repeated gout attacks, you might be put on a daily drug treatment such as Colchicine.

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