Gout is a common form of inflammation that is very painful. It usually affects one joint at a time, often the big toe. When gout gets worse and painful it is called a “flare”. When you have no symptoms, you are said to in remission. If you get gout repeatedly you can end up with “gouty arthritis”. There is no cure for gout, but you can effectively treat and self-manage the condition along with medication.
Signs & Symptoms
Flares tend to come on suddenly and can last from days to weeks. Flares can be followed by weeks, months, or even years of remission and then flare again. The toe joints, ankle, and knee are the most affected. Symptoms include:
- Intense pain
What Causes Gout?
Gout is caused by hyperuricemia, which means when there is too much uric acid in the body. The body makes uric acid when it breaks down purines which are in the foods you eat. When there is too much uric acid in the body, uric acid crystals form in the joints, fluids, and tissues. Hyperuricemia is only treated if you have gout.
Risks of Gout?
- Being male
- Being obese
- Having certain health conditions: Congestive Heart Failure, High blood pressure, Insulin resistance, Metabolic syndrome, Diabetes, Poor kidney function
- Using certain medications such as diuretics (water pills)
- Drinking alcohol – risk increases the more you drink
- Food or beverages high in fructose
- A high purine diet: red meat, organ meat, some seafood such as anchovies, sardines, mussels, scallops, trout, and tuna.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Diagnosis is made by a medical professional (MD, ARNP, or PA). Treatment depends on the severity but usually starts with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, steroids, or colchicine. You will need to drink more fluids and limit purine rich foods. If you take diuretics you may have to stop, but do not stop unless your provider tells you to. If flares are frequent, you may be started on preventative medications. The goal is to prevent kidney stones and tophi from forming. Tophi are uric acid deposits under the skin.
Priority of Gout Treatment is Self-Management
- Avoid foods that trigger gout, so avoid or limit goods high in purines.
- Limit alcohol, particularly beer and hard liquor
- Get physically active with 150 minutes per week of moderate activity
- Lose weight
- Have regular check ups