Gout – symptoms, diagnosis, & treatment
Gout is a painful inflammation in the joints due to the formation of needle-shaped uric acid crystals. This is caused by the increase of uric acid in the blood. It can affect any joint, ankle, elbow, knees, hands etc.
The most commonly occurring place is the toes, and thus called Bi Foot disease. The rise in the blood uric acid may be due to overproduction of uric acid or under excretion of the same, some medicine consumption, food habits, kidney failure, or other physical or biological conditions. It may be hereditary also. Found more common in men than in women. In men it’s more during puberty and in women during menopause, rare in children. If left untreated it can lead to kidney troubles, high blood pressure, diabetes and other heart diseases.
Symptoms of gout
- Intense joint Pain: Though any joint may be attacked by gout, the most common is on the toes. The pain causes difficulty to walk or move. Even the slight movement of wind around the toe might be painful. Usually mild attacks are mistaken for other types of arthritis.
- Persistent discomfort: The pain may last for 7-10 days if not treated. Sometimes it goes on for weeks or even more. These recurring attacks may cause tissue damage. So it’s important that its diagnosed properly.
- Inflammation and redness: A painful inflammation in joints especially around the toe. The affected area is swollen and red in color causing extreme discomfort. If the joint is hot or you suffer from fever immediate medical attention must be given, this may be due to infection.
Diagnosis for gout
The usual way of diagnosis is to feel the joins for any crystals present, but it may not be easy as it sounds. The doctor would advice for a few tests like,
- Serum Uric Acid Test– which is carried out after 4-6 weeks of the gout attack. This test involves the blood sample analysis to find the increase level in uric acid. This test may not be accurate for a gout diagnosis as people with high uric acid may not have gout disease always.
- Synovial fluid Test: It’s a lubricating fluid present in the joint. This fluid is tested for presence of uric acid crystals. This test clearly shows what types of crystals are present and whether or not the inflammation is of a gout attack.
- X-Ray: This is rarely used as it’s just to rule out other types of crystals such as chondrocalcinosis- calcium crystals.
Treatment for gout
Medical care is utmost important. Once the disease is diagnosed the first treatment given would be to take anti-inflammatory painkillers. But the precaution here is that the patient should not take these if he/she is already on aspirin to prevent blood clot. Aspirin along with the pain killers can cause stomach bleeding. So to them, an alternative Colchicine, is given to ease the gout attack. Steroid injections are another option when the first two options evoke any side effects.
The natural way to treat gout is to control food habits. Avoid any purine rich food and have food that can help remove the purine or uric acid from the body. Change in life style can treat or prevent gout like, losing weight, drinking plenty of water, checking the blood pressure regularly and checking with the doctor about any medicines consuming that can cause gout. Prevention is always better than cure.
Allopurinol is a medicine that helps lower the uric acid in blood. It takes 2-3 months to come this medicine into effect. Febuxostat is an alternative when Allopurinol has side effects. Though there are medicines for the prevention it’s better to change yourself by maintaining a good body weight, drinking plenty of water to dissolve the uric acid, limiting alcohol intake, dietary modifications etc. Stay healthy to avoid any diseases.
I finished my masters in finance and worked for the Largest Private sector banking company in India. When the time came, I moved on to something less demanding and more creative. The influence of Indian culture asks us to put satisfaction upfront and I was in search of it. Writing struck me as a possibility and soon a passion. I am not creative but I am very thorough. Technical writing is my forte and at times I do delve into the creative side, though the stint usually lasts not more than a day! I enjoy traveling, reading and shopping.