Do you often wake up in the middle of the night with sudden attacks of severe pain in your joints? Having a hard time moving or walking? If the answer is yes, it’s probably gouty arthritis.
Gouty arthritis, or quite simply gout, is one of the most painful types of arthritis. It remains a major health concern, with more and more people suffering from this extremely painful condition. It’s a complex form of arthritis that can affect anyone.
If you think you’re suffering from this potentially debilitating condition, know that it can be treated and there are preventive measures you can take. Here are important things you need to know about gout.
What Causes Gout?
Gout occurs when there’s an excessive amount of uric acid in the blood – a condition called hyperuricemia. Uric acid is normally dissolved in the blood and is excreted from the body, in urine. If the body produces too much uric acid or not enough is excreted via the kidneys, then it builds up and form into needle-like crystals in the joints and the surrounding tissue.
The exact cause of gout is sometimes unknown, although genetic factors seems to play a role. Uric acid form crystals that build up in the joints, thus causing extreme pain, tenderness, and swelling on the affected part. In some cases, gout can flare up without a specific cause at all. For some, it can be brought on by one or more of the following factors:
- Genetics. People with a family history of gout are more susceptible to this condition.
- Age and gender. Men tend to produce more uric acid than women, although women produce higher levels of uric acid after menopause.
- Lifestyle and diet. Frequent and heavy alcohol consumption disrupts normal uric acid excretion. Avoid eating foods that are high in purine, as this increases the amount of uric acid in the body. Limit consumption of animal proteins, especially fish, meat, and poultry. Organ meats, mackerel, herring, and anchovies are also high-purine foods that must be avoided. Other types of food that are linked to the increased risk of gout include red meat like beef, lamb and pork; and fatty seafood such as shrimp, tuna, scallops, and lobster.
- Body weight. Being overweight can also increase the likelihood of gout developing as there is more turnover of body tissue, which means more uric acid is produced as a metabolic waste product.
- Exposure to lead. Being exposed to lead for a long period of time has been linked to gout.
- Medications. There are certain medicines that can increase uric acid levels, including some diuretics and drugs containing salicylate.
- Other health conditions. Kidney problems can reduce the body’s ability to effectively eliminate waste products, including uric acid. Other health problems associated with gout include hypertension, hypothyroidism, and diabetes.
Next week we will discuss the Signs and Sypmtoms of Gout.