Gout a form of inflammatory arthritis which develops in people with high levels of uric acid within their blood.
Although gout is more likely to affect men than women (according to researchers), gout affects a total of 4% of the American population.
What is Gout?
Gout is a kind of arthritis that usually attacks the big toe, which has symptoms ranging from burning pain, swelling in joint, and stiffness.
Gout attacks will continue to take place unless gout is diagnosed and treated.
In fact, gout can cause major damage to your joints, tissues, and other tendons over time if left untreated.
Uric acid overproduction should not be a concern for most individuals, but with gout the uric acid forms hard crystals in and around the joint, causing sever pain and discomfort.
Many people with high levels of uric acid might not ever get gout, but to the small percentage of people that do get gout, gout can have transverse symptoms and complications.
Certain people with complications such as obesity and alcohol consumption increases the chances and likelihood of being diagnosed with gout.
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If you’re a consistent meat and fish eater, your chances of getting diagnosed with gout can also increase, so a stable healthy diet of more greens will in fact reduce chances of gout.
The reason why meat eaters are more susceptible to gout is due to a chemical called purines.
Purines are specific chemical compounds that are found in certain foods, which break down into uric acid.
Foods that should be limited if gout is suspected are:
- Meats, Bacon, Beef, Pork, and Lamb
- Organ Meats such as Kidneys, and Liver
- Game Meats
- Fish and Seafood
Our diet is a key and valuable starting point for many of our health complications and issues.
Therefore, a gout diet is of two variables, to figure out what a good gout diet is, and what a bad gout diet is.
In fact, if you experience a sudden attack of gout, it’s best to reduce your intake of meats and dairy products, resulting in a good gout diet.
Even if you consume meat everyday a positive good gout diet should include more greens and fruits, to lower a bad gout diet.
There are tons of other valuable delicious safe gout diet that are low in purines. Some of those foods are:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Coffee and Tea
- Peanut Butter
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Gout symptoms can happen suddenly and without warning, and often times after an illness or injury. Researchers show that it happens to take place at night more often then the daytime.
Gout symptoms usually affect one joint at a time, but if left untreated it can spread and affect many joints.
Gout is associated with other serious health complications such as high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, as well as diabetes.
Gout symptoms can range and vary depending on multiple factors. A few of those symptoms are:
- Intense Joint Pain. When Gout strikes it usually strikes the big toe or a large joint, however it can also occur in your knees, ankles, wrist, and hands. The pain can last for up to 12 hours, with the most severe pain happening in the first few hours. Intense joint pain makes gout symptoms tough and hard to deal with.
- Inflammation and Redness. The resulting effects of intense joint pain caused by gout symptoms are inflammation and redness. Although Inflammation and redness is a milder gout symptom, the joints can also become tender and swollen.
- Limited Range of Motion. A limited range of motion is another byproduct of gout symptoms. The joints become tender and swell, causing a decreased joint mobility as gout symptoms progresses. Gout can also make moving in general bothersome, making it another tough gout symptom.
- Lingering Discomfort. Another byproduct of gout symptoms especially the intense pain in the beginning of the attack, is lingering discomfort lasting anywhere from a few hours to weeks.
Gout can be complicated to start, in fact it can stem from many illnesses and health reasons varying widely.
Most common gout symptoms can have implications that are triggered by your health and lifestyle.
Gout Medical or health triggers are:
- Joint injury
- Surgery or sudden, severe illness Infection
- Taking certain diuretic medications for high blood pressure, leg swelling (edema) or heart failure
- Taking the drug cyclosporine
- Starting a uric acid-lowering treatment Chemotherapy
The gout symptoms mentioned above are triggered by health and medical issues, and also have a lifestyle element to its triggers.
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Lifestyle and living conditions can also cause gout triggers to take place. Lifestyle gout triggers are:
- Crash diets and fasting
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Eating large portions of certain foods high in purines (red meats or shellfish)
- Dehydration (not getting enough fluids)
- Drinking Sodas
How to Diagnose Gout?
To diagnose gout, majority of doctors will take your medical history, examine the affected joint and do a blood test to examine if gout diagnosis is correct to the patient.
The doctor will also ask about other correlating symptoms that will allow for a clearer and more accurate picture. These correlating symptoms might not mean much to you, but to an experienced doctor it can serve to pinpoint the causes and issues of the complications.
Next your doctor will most likely ask what medications you are and were taking as far back as medically feasible.
Your doctor will also make sure to get a full detail of your diet as far back as medically relevant. Gout diagnosis can be noted through your diet as well as relating uric acid levels found.
Doctors will also make sure to ask how quickly and intensely the gout attack came on.
The details of the attack are the most medically relevant because it can give much needed information to the doctor.
You should try to remember the details of the attack as well as possible, and let your doctor know.
Should the information provide full details, the doctor will know full well the severity of the pain, the length of the gout attack, as well as the specific joints the gout attacked.
The doctor is looking for severity of pain, length of attack and joints affected, so make sure to fully detail your story for a full gout diagnosis.
All this information provides the doctor a clear view to rule out other potential causes of joint pain and inflammation such as infection, injury or another type of arthritis that could be causes gout diagnosis.
Your doctor will also make sure to take a blood test to measure the level of uric acid in your blood, as this is a key point in addressing a gout diagnosis.
A high level of uric acid in your blood doesn’t necessarily mean you have gout, just as a normal level doesn’t mean you don’t have it.
In fact, majority of gout diagnosis is provided by multiple symptoms, and can vary on their uric acid levels.
Further gout testing to prove a gout diagnosis can have your doctor taking an X-ray, ultrasound, CT or MRI to examine soft tissue and bone throughout your body.
Your doctor might also remove fluid from the affected joint and examine it under a microscope for uric acid crystals, which would give a clear gout diagnosis.
Most doctors understand that finding uric acid crystals in the joint fluid is the surest way to make a gout diagnosis.
Gout treatment requires a two-branched approach that combines medications and lifestyle changes to fully provide the best gout treatment available.
Since gout can strike without notice, the first steps should be to notify your doctor and family members.
Treating an Acute Gout Attack can vary and depends and each individual’s case.
Here are a few steps for getting the pain and swelling of a gout attack under control and manageable:
Take an anti-inflammatory medication or anti-inflammatory herb such as black seed oil as soon as possible. Anti inflammation compounds will act to reduce inflammation as well as swelling and pain.
In fact, anti-inflammatory medications and herbs can further help more illnesses and complications that you might not even be aware of.
Ice and elevate the joint throughout the day. Make sure to wrap a cloth around the ice and take breaks. The joints however should be elevated helping reduce swelling and stiffness.
Drink plenty of fluids such as water and electrolyte drinks. Make sure to stay away from alcohol and sodas as they can raise and complicate gout issues and symptoms.
You should make sure to call your doctor and make an appointment as soon as you can, the faster you start gout treatments the faster you can start to manage gout.
Although a gout attack can be frightening and cause stress its vital to stay calm and relax.
In fact, majority of health care professionals assert that stress can aggravate gout.
After contacting your doctor make sure to ask friends and family to help you with daily tasks.
The onset of a gout attack can cause the most problems, so having help can take a load off of your shoulders and get you focused on gout treatment.
Despite the sudden onset and intense pain caused by gout, gout attacks usually peak and resolve within a week or 10 days and then disappear completely if managed well.
Management of gout is just as crucial as gout diagnosis.
The first 36 hours are typically the worst for gout attacks and onset gout triggers.
Although the gout attack can take place instantly, it’s important that once you have an attack, you begin working with your doctor to control uric acid levels and prevent future gout attacks.
Notifying your doctor will help insure a hopeful and likely road to recovery from gout symptoms.
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Medications and herbs for Treating an Acute Gout Attack
Here are the medications used to treat an acute gout attack that are accepted by most doctors and used in today’s medicinal world. Although we always encourage using natural remedies when possible (always consult your doctor first), causes such as gout should be considered for medical treatment.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) NSAIDs are frequently used to quickly relieve the pain and swelling of an acute gout attack or episode and can shorten the attack, especially if taken in the first 24 hours.
Corticosteroids such as prednisone can be taken by mouth to treat a gout attack.
Corticosteroids can also be injected into an inflamed joint or tendon to relieve the pain and swelling of an acute gout attack.
They can also be injected systemically if the attack doesn’t respond to other medications or if many joints are affected throughout the entire body.
Injection of adrenocorticotropic hormone ACTH is a synthetic drug that stimulates the body to produce corticosteroids naturally, which can help treat a gout attack.
Corticosteroids and ACTH usually start working within 24 hours after you begin taking them. The sooner you’re in gout treatment the sooner relief can begin.
Colchicine is derived and taken from a plant that has been used to treat gout symptoms for more than 2,000 years.
In fact, colchicine has been noted to help relieve the pain and swelling of acute attacks on joints as well as multiple joints throughout the body.
However, Colchicine’s does come with side effects and the most common side effects are, diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal pain and cramping. However more severe side attacks can occur.
Like almost all of gout medications, it has been shown to be most effective if taken at the first signs of a gout attack.
For that reason, gout treatment and gout diagnosis should be taken serious as well as sped up.
Another great way to treat gout is by reducing uric acid levels.
Most medications that lower uric acid are intended to prevent gout attacks and keep the condition from becoming chronic or worsening in general
Your doctor will wait until your most recent gout attack is over before starting these medications, because taking them during an attack can worsen or prolong it.
Its vital to understand that taking these medications can be challenging for many, as uric acid levels drop, crystals in your joints may shift and move, causing or triggering another gout attack.
Nonetheless, sticking with your gout treatment plan is the best way to prevent future gout attacks.
Your doctor may prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication such as a low, but regular dose of colchicine or an NSAID, along with one of the medications below for the first six weeks to 12 months to prevent further and prevalent gout attacks.
Allopurinol reduces the production of uric acid in your body. It is often prescribed at a low daily dose at first, with the dose gradually increasing over time steadily introducing it to your body.
However, allopurinol has occasional side effects that include skin rash and stomach pain. Stomach problems usually go away as your body adjusts to the gout treatment prescribed by your doctor.
Although in rare cases, allopurinol has shown to cause a severe allergic reaction.
A great alternative if you are experiencing side effects of allopurinol is febuxostat.
In fact, febuxostat is an option for your doctor if you happen to develop side effects from allopurinol or have kidney disease.
Like allopurinol, febuxostat decreases the amount of uric acid made in the body. The dosages of febuxostat are also started at a lower dose; further increase of dosage usually happens if uric acid levels remain high.
However, side effects of febuxostat can include joint pain, muscle pain, as well as nausea and vomiting.
Another drug that your doctors might try in order to have gout treatment is probenecid.
Probenecid acts on the kidneys to help the body eliminate uric acid throughout the entire body.
The gout treatment medication is taken daily and may be combined with antibiotics to boost effectiveness.
However common side effects of probenecid can include nausea, kidney stones, stomach pain, skin rash, and headaches.
Another medication that your doctor might use in gout treatment is pegloticase.
Pegloticase is used when standard medications are unable to lower the uric acid level of your body, a condition known as refractory chronic gout.
Pegloticase helps in gout treatment by helping reduce uric acid quickly and to lower levels better then other medications.
The drug is administered every two weeks by intravenous (IV) infusion, and should be done consistently for a proper gout treatment plan.
However, pegloticase comes with side effects that can include infusion reactions, gout flares, nausea, bruising, sore throat, constipation, chest pain and vomiting.
One of the best ways and most vital ways to take care of your health if you have gout is to take a proactive role in your own treatment a process.
Many of these treatments only work to order to treat your gout condition, rarely every addressing the underlying causes of gout.
A good system of self-care is called self-management. In fact, self-management of your health is one of the most impactful ways in preventing and treating gout and gout trigger.
Gout can be triggered by a number of things, from illnesses, to accidents, so full understanding your current health condition can map out what you need to know for your future health condition.
Have you every suffered from gout? How did you treat gout? Let us know of your experiences with gout in the comments below, I would love to hear how you treated gout.