Gout is actually a kind of arthritis and is also sometimes known as gouty arthritis. It can affect any joint in the body but it usually affects joints singly. The big toes are often the joint areas that are most commonly visited by gout. Attacks of this condition are often immediate and extremely painful. One may also experience tender swelling and redness in the affected areas.
Gout is caused by urate crystals. These urate crystals originate from uric acid that is a by-product of purine breakdown in the body. Normally, uric acid is a form of waste that is eliminated from the body as it passes through the kidneys. Some people may have high levels or uric acid but not have gout because the uric acid is properly disposed of. Sometimes though there may be too much uric acid, or the kidneys may not eliminate enough. This could result in the formation of urate crystals that settle on the joints.
Gout can develop in both men and women but men 40 years old and above are generally more at risk than women. Women only have an increased risk of developing gout when they are past the menopausal stage. If gout is a common condition in one’s family, then one is also particularly at risk.
Some other people may be more at risk of having the condition than others. These include those who are heavy drinkers and those who are fond of red meat. Some medical conditions like heart-related diseases and diabetes, and medications like diuretics may increase one’s likelihood of getting gout.
Problems with Uric Acid
Not all individuals suffer from the same intensity and frequency of symptoms. If you do have gout though, you should always consider consulting a doctor. Having the condition is a definite sign that you have uric acid and urate crystals. In severe cases of high uric acid, the kidneys may become affected. Urate crystals may eventually be the first step to developing kidney stones.
What You Can Do
There are things you can do to decrease your chances of future attacks or limit the chances of gout from developing. The most obvious preventive measure is to attempt to lessen the amount of uric acid in your body. It is often suggested that certain foods should be minimized or avoided. These include red meats, organ meat, alcohol, gravy and some seafood. Drinking at least eight glasses of water a day or more can also aid in keeping levels of uric acid at bay.
It is also recommended that anyone who is at risk of getting gout should maintain their ideal weight. Aside from regulating one’s diet, this can be achieved through a regular exercise program.
Your doctor may also prescribe medications that can decrease uric acid production or increase the amount in which it is flushed out of the body.
If you are already suffering from gout, make sure to take care of your joints. You should always consult with your doctor when it comes to self-care options. Some possible options include using a cold compress, performing doctor-prescribed exercises and choosing movements and positions that do not stress the affected joints.
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