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  • What is Gout?

    Gout is a form of arthritis known as inflammatory arthritis. The condition affects the body’s joints, causing severe pain and swelling of the affected area. Gout can be experienced in any of the body’s joints, though in the majority of cases it tends to affect the fingers, toes, wrists, ankles, elbows and knees.
  • What causes Gout?

    Gout is a condition brought on by an excess of uric acid in the blood. Normally, this chemical is excreted in the urine. If too much uric acid is produced, or if not enough of it is excreted, it can build- up and form needle-like crystals. These crystals can settle in any of the body’s joints, triggering painful inflammation and swelling in the surrounding tissue.
  • How common is Gout?

    Gout is a fairly common condition that affects approximately 1-2 people out of every 100 in The United Kingdom. The condition tends to be most prevalent in men over 30 and postmenopausal women. Overall, gout is more common amongst men.
  • What is Uric Acid?

    Uric acid is a chemical produced when the body breaks down another chemical called purines. Purines are a substance found in certain food and drinks. Most uric acid is dissolved in the blood, where it will travel through the kidneys before being excreted in the urine. If your body has too much uric acid, or if it is unable to remove enough of it, this build-up can lead to gout. High levels of uric acid in the blood is called hyperuricemia.
  • What are the symptoms of Gout?

    The main symptoms of gout are as follows:
     
    • A sudden, intense pain in one or more of the body’s joints.
    • A swelling of the affected area directly around the joint.
    • The affected joint will feel hot and be tender to the touch.
    • The surrounding skin will become red and inflamed.
  • Who is at risk of developing Gout?

    There are a number of factors that put a person more at risk of developing gout. These include:
     
    • Age and gender – the condition is more common in adults over 30 years of age and affects more men than women.
    • Genetics – having a blood relative with gout increases your likelihood of developing the condition.
    • Weight – being overweight significantly increases your risk of experiencing gout.
    • Drinking alcohol – alcohol can interfere with the removal of uric acid from the body, which can lead to gout.
    • Diet – eating foods that are rich in purines can cause, or exacerbate gout in some people.
    • Medications – certain types of medication can increase the risk of developing gout. These include; diuretics, salicylate drugs, niacin, cyclosporine, and levodopa.
    • Health problems – certain health issues can lead to gout, including; high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, psoriasis, haemolytic anaemia, Kelley-Seegmiller syndrome, and Lesch-Nyhan syndrome.
    • Recipients of organ transplants – having received a transplanted organ increases your susceptibility to gout.
  • How is Gout diagnosed?

    Gout can sometimes be difficult to identify, as the symptoms often mimic other conditions. To gain a firm diagnosis, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and examine the affected area. They will likely review your medical history and ask relevant questions about your diet.
     
    If your GP still isn’t sure whether gout is the accurate diagnosis, further testing will likely be required. This can include:
     
    • Blood tests – which would look to measure the concentration of uric acid in the blood.
    • A joint fluid test – this will involve taking a fluid sample from the affected joint, which can then be analysed and checked for the gout causing crystals.
    • Ultrasound scan – this is becoming an increasingly popular method for diagnosing gout. Ultrasound uses sound waves to build up an internal picture, which will help detect the gout causing crystal formation in the joints.
  • What food and drinks should I avoid?

    Food and drink that are rich in purines should be avoided. These include:
     
    • Beer
    • Spirits
    • Red meats
    • Organ and glandular meat, including; liver, kidneys and sweetbreads.
    • Certain seafood, including; herring, haddock, sardines, scallops, anchovies, mackerel and tuna.
  • What medicines are used to treat Gout?

    Medicines used to either treat or prevent gout include:
     
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – these include Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Indomethacin, and Celecoxib. These medicines are used to control the inflammation, whilst providing effective pain-relief. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before using NSAIDs to ensure their suitability.
    • Colchicine is a prescribed medication that can be used to both treat and prevent a gout attack. Using colchicine every day for prevention may reduce the frequency of gout attacks, though it will not prevent the accumulation of uric acid that can lead to joint damage.
    • Corticosteroids, such as Prednisolone are generally prescribed when NSAIDs and colchicine are unsuitable.
    • Allopurinol – this medicine works to inhibit the production of uric acid. Allopurinol is designed to help prevent gout attacks from occurring. However, if an attack should occur, allopurinol will not provide any pain relief. This preventative treatment is taken once daily, everyday
  • What should I do at the onset of a Gout attack?

    Gout attacks can be severely painful and debilitating. However, with the appropriate treatment and self-help techniques, the symptoms can be effectively controlled. Below is an outline of what to do to ease the pain during an attack:
     
    • Take your prescribed medicine – this can be over-the-counter or prescribed painkillers, such as Ibuprofen or Naproxen. If you are already taking a prescribed uric acid-lowering drug, continue to take this medicine during an attack.
    • Ice down – applying an ice pack to the affected joint, will help to ease the pain and inflammation.
    • Drink plenty of fluid – ensuring you stay hydrated will help the body to flush out the excess uric acid from your system. You should aim to drink around 16 cups of fluid a day, with at least half of those being water.
    • Avoid alcohol – it is important to avoid alcohol during an attack, especially beer. Alcohol not only causes the body to produce more uric acid, it will also inhibit the excretion of uric acid from your body.
    • Elevate the affected joint and keep pressure off of it – raising the affected joint above chest height will help reduce the swelling.
    • Try to relax – stress can aggravate gout, so it recommended to try and relax as much as possible during an attack.
    • Avoid high-purine foods – these foods could exacerbate or prolong a gout attack.
    • Inform your doctor – if your current medication regime isn’t controlling or relieving your gout symptoms, your doctor may wish to prescribe alternative or suggest stronger treatments.
  • Can Gout be prevented?

    Gout normally develops after years of uric acid crystal build-up. You probably won’t be aware that your uric acid levels are elevated until you suffer your first gout attack. However, there are preventative measures you can take, which will help ward off developing the condition. These include:
     
    • Avoid food that is rich in purines.
    • Reduce the amount of alcohol you drink.
    • Stay hydrated.
    • Regular exercise.
    • Avoid sugary drinks and sugary snacks.

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