Health

Gout: Symptoms and treatment

By Angela Davis

Sunday, September 23, 2018

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GOUT is a common, intensely painful type of arthritis. It typically manifests as a sudden, severe pain that will cause the patient to wake in the middle of the night.

The most common area to be affected is the joint of the big toe, but it can be found in any joint in the body and also in soft tissue like the earlobes and nose.

Gout occurs due to the build-up of sharp urate crystals in the joints. These form because of high levels of uric acid in the blood. The human body will produce uric acid when it breaks down substances called purines.

Some foods have high levels of purines and will therefore increase uric acid levels. Examples of high purines foods are: Steak; liver and kidney; beer; spirits; seafood; and fructose.

Symptoms

The main symptom of gout is intense joint pain. The pain tends to be most intense for the first 12 hours and can last up to two weeks. The affected area will be red, hot and inflamed. Most people can't even bear light touches. The joint will be stiff with a limited range of movement.

What are the risk factors?

• Obese people produce more uric acid.

• Certain drugs can increase uric acid levels. Examples are low dose aspirin, anti-rejection drugs and some diuretics.

• As mentioned before foods high in purines are a huge risk factor.

• Men tend to be more prone to the condition but as women reach menopause they catch up.

• A family history of gout means you are more likely to develop it.

Diagnosis

Blood tests tend to be the go-to diagnostic tool for gout but they can be misleading as some people with elevated levels of uric acid have never experienced the condition. The clinical appearance of the joint and the history are essential for diagnosis. Other tests include CT scans, joint fluid tests, X-rays and ultrasound.

Treatment

Doctors will usually treat the condition with medication. These may include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids and colchicine. They may also prescribe drugs that block uric acid production like allopurinol.

Other solutions

Foods that are known to be helpful in the treatment of gout are:

• Cherries

• Nettle tea

• Ginger

• Dandelion

• Milk thistle seeds

• Apple cider vinegar in warm water.

• Coffee.

• Turmeric

• Celery

• Water to hydrate the kidneys.

Epsom salts foot baths can be very soothing as it rich in magnesium. Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight will also help prevent attacks.

Angela Davis BSc (Hons) DPodM MChS is a podiatrist with offices in Montego Bay (293- 7119), Mandeville (962-2100), Ocho Rios (974-6339), Kingston (978-8392), and Savanna-la-Mar (955-3154). She is a member of the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom.

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