What is Gout?
Gout is a type of arthritis that develops when you have high uric acid levels in your blood, which causes sharp crystals to form in a joint and cause a gout attack.
Symptoms of Gout
For most people, the first symptom of gout is sudden, excruciating pain and swelling, tenderness, and redness in the joint at the base of the big toe. Gout can also develop in other lower-body joints, such as the ankle or knee.
High uric acid levels, which put you at risk for developing gout, can be caused by:
- Eating a lot of red and organ meats, and seafood, which are high in purines — your body produces uric acid to break down these substances
- Certain medicines, such as diuretics (eliminates water from the body) and immune system-suppression medicines
- Drinking alcohol and drinks sweetened with fruit sugar (fructose)
- Chronic diseases such as diabetes , heart disease, kidney conditions, and high blood pressure
- Family history of gout
- Traumatic injuries, surgery, or infections
Some people develop gout only once, but having a gout attack can put you at greater risk of developing recurrent gout (gout attacks occur several times a year). Without proper treatment, gout can damage joints and uric acid crystals can develop in the urinary tract, leading to kidney stones.
Here’s what you can do to reduce pain and swelling when you have a gout attack:
- Apply ice to the joint and keep it elevated
- Drink plenty of water
- Make an appointment with your doctor
- Take an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen sodium (Aleve)
Medicines to Manage a Gout Attack
NSAIDs, corticosteroids (such as prednisone), and cochicine are used to relieve pain and swelling. These are most effective when you take them at the first signs of a gout attack.
Medicines that Control Uric Acid Levels
Medicines that lower uric acid levels are used to prevent future gout attacks from occurring. Xanithine oxidase inhibitors that include allopurinol or febuxostat reduce the amount of uric acid your body makes. Probenecid and lesinurad help your kidneys remove uric acid from your body more effectively.
Testing for Gout
Doctors use blood tests to measure uric acid in your blood. A high level of uric acid doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get gout, but this information helps your doctor confirm you have gout and plan treatment.
Your doctor may use noninvasive imaging — such as an X-ray or ultrasound, which uses sound waves) — to examine your joints and look for uric acid crystals.
Joint Fluid Test
Your doctor may take a small sample (using a needle) of your joint fluid to look for crystals.
Why Choose UHealth?
Expert diagnosis and personalized attention. Our rheumatologists use the latest methods to identify gout quickly so you can get relief right away. We develop a personalized care plan to help reduce the risk of developing gout again and prevent damage to your joints.
Comprehensive care from a team of specialists. Our rheumatologists use the latest methods to identify gout quickly so you can get relief right away. We develop a personalized care plan to help reduce the risk of developing gout again and prevent damage to your joints.
Specialized care to improve your quality of life. We'll help you learn how to reduce your risk of gout attacks, such as limiting red meats, alcohol, and sugary drinks; getting regular exercise; and maintaining a healthy weight. We offer advice to keep you healthy.
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