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All You Need to Know About Gout

Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that affects body joints such as wrists, ankles, hands and feet. The joint on the big toe is, however, the most commonly affected part. The affected joints become stiff, swollen, and extremely painful. Fortunately, the condition is manageable and can be treated. 

Here is a look at important gout information that you need to know for effective prevention and management.

Symptoms of gout - The most common symptom of gout is pain in the affected joint. So intense is the pain that an affected toe cannot bear the weight of cotton sheet. The pain often starts suddenly at night and can go on for between four to twelve hours. Apart from pain, another common gout symptom is swelling of the affected joints. They become tender, look red, and feel hot.

Causes of gout - Gout is caused by excessive uric acid in the blood. The acid is formed through breakdown of purine chemicals which are common in high-protein foods such as poultry and meat. For normal people, the uric acid is eliminated from the body in the form of urine after going through the kidneys. However, for people with gout, either the kidneys fail to filter out all the acid or it is produced in excess quantities. The acid, therefore, builds up around joints and starts to form crystals. The body's immune system responds by fighting this crystal formation around joints. It is this response that causes the excruciating pain on gout-affected joints as well as their swelling.

Gout risk factors - There are many factors that make one susceptible to developing gout. The most common ones are gender, lifestyle choices and genetics. Since production of uric acid is higher in men than women, men are at a higher risk of developing gout than women. However, after menopause women produce almost as much uric acid as men. That explains why women become equally susceptible to developing the condition after menopause. Apart from gender, lifestyle choices such as excessive alcohol consumption and regular intake of foods with high quantities of purine chemicals such as red meat can also lead to development of gout. While alcohol has no purine, it makes elimination of uric acid difficult thus leading to its build up. Other common gout risk factors include being overweight and having a gout family history.

Gout prevention  - From a look at the risk factors, it is clear that the best way to prevent gout is to live a healthy lifestyle. Such lifestyle includes taking balanced diet and avoiding alcoholic drinks. Maintaining a healthy body weight and taking in fluids of around three litres a day also reduce the risk of developing gout.

Gout treatment  - Effective gout care and treatment play a major role in preventing the condition from developing into more serious complications such kidney stones and recurrent gout. Generally, treatment involves taking medications that relieve the pain or those that prevent the condition's recurrence through blocking of uric acid formation. Drugs in the former category include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Motrin while those in the latter category include alloprinal.

It is unfortunate that despite being one of the most painful conditions that one can ever develop, many people do not take gout seriously. That should not be the case. Like all health problems, prevention is always better than treatment. Taking healthy and balanced diet, exercising, avoiding alcohol, and managing body weight are the best ways of keeping your body free from gout.

Disease Prevention Through Nutrition and Exercise

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