10 Things You Should Know About Gout
By Tim Nosser
1. Gout is one of the oldest known diseases.
2. Gout is a painful and potentially disabling form of arthritis, affecting 2-3 million Americans.
3. Symptoms include sudden, painful swelling in the joints (generally the lower extremities) that tend to flare up at night.
4. Gout is caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood that builds up in joints, forming needle-like crystals.
5. Gout is diagnosed by examining synovial fluid withdrawn from the afflicted joint and examining the fluid under a microscope for the characteristic crystals.
6. Excess uric acid in the blood is caused by a high purine diet, genetic disposition to high uric acid levels, or the kidneys’ inability to adequately excrete uric acid (hyperuricemia).
7. Purines are found in most foods but are higher in meats, fish and poultry. Uric acid is made from the body breaking down purines. Alcohol and high-fructose drinks can also raise uric acid levels.
8. Men, ages 30 – 50, people with kidney disease, and post-menopausal women are most often afflicted with gout.
9. Gout is treated with aspirin-like NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), colchicines, corticosteroids, along with diet modifications. Other drugs are available to help kidney excretion or block uric acid production.
10. No “one” form of treatment works for everyone, so working with a doctor to find which treatment option works for you is important.