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What causes gout and how can it be treated?

Aug 31, 2018 by Comfort Keepers Denver

Gout: what the heck is it? You may have heard of this term before or knew someone who had it once, but perhaps you’re still unsure of what it is, or your potential risk for it.

Here’s all you need to know about this condition:

What is gout?

Gout is actually a form of arthritis, and it’s incredibly painful. The intense inflammation causes your joints to become swollen, red, and painful, sometimes with tingling sensations. You may also experience soreness or stiffness in these areas. The condition can be treated to go into remission, though it may take days or weeks for symptoms to fully go away. For some, they never completely do. There is no full-blown cure for this condition.

What causes gout?

One of the many compounds created as biological waste from our physiological processes is uric acid. If not properly disposed of or when in excess, this product can clump up to create “crystals” in our joints.

As you can imagine, a crystal in your joints wouldn’t feel too great. They’re sharp and painful, especially during the flare-ups that come with gout.

Who can get gout?

Gout is much more common than people realize – currently, over 8 million Americans are living with the condition.

And, contrary to the stereotype of an older, overweight, unhealthy man being the usual gout patient, it can happen to anyone of almost any age.

Yes, even a healthy college-aged male can get gout, and women of many ages, too. However, it is most common in people who:

  • Are older
  • Male
  • Have a health condition like diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, or kidney disease

It most commonly affects men in their 30’s to 40’s, though it could develop in their senior years, too.

How is gout treated?

The first thing doctors typically do when treating gout in their patients is to see what drugs can be removed from their medication routine. This is because many common medications actually cause elevated uric acid levels as a side effect. Changing these medications, reducing doses or even stopping the medication altogether could greatly reduce uric acid levels, thus reduce the severity of gout.

What you eat can also affect the condition. A certain group of compounds in our bodies called purines can increase the buildup of uric acid. Foods rich in purines include:

  • Organ meats, like kidneys, brains, beef liver, or sweetbreads
  • Some beer
  • Some seafood, like sardines, mackerel, scallops, or anchovies
  • Some plant foods, like mushrooms or asparagus

To treat the condition and its pain, medication may be taken. There are, give or take, 6 different medication options. Additionally, painkillers you can buy at the store called NSAIDS, like ibuprofen or naproxen, can help with the swelling and pain during flareups.

Whatever your age, gender, or health status, if you’re experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms, talk to your doctor. You could be one of the over 8 million Americans affected by gout!

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