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Do You Have Gout?

Aug 17, 2007
Gout is a disease that has been around since ancient times. It is one of the few diseases that has been reported with consistency (and that has had a name) throughout history. It was often considered an affliction of the wealthy, due to rich diets and the privilege of not having to work terribly hard. Even today, obesity is considered one of the risk factors associated with developing gout. Moderate to heavy alcohol use can also be a risk factor for developing gout, a condition that is considered a form of arthritis and usually attacks the big toe and spreads to the rest of the foot. One of the most famous historical figures to suffer from gout is Benjamin Franklin.

In the United States, approximately one million people suffer from gout attacks. If you are a man, you are more likely to experience gout. Gout occurs much more commonly (nine gout cases out of ten) in men than in women. For most men, the common age is right around 75, although it can attack any man who has reached puberty (teens who experience rapid weight gain are vulnerable). In women, gout occurs mostly after the onset of menopause.

Gout is linked to high instances of uric acid in the blood. Risk factors, in addition to obesity and alcohol use, include high blood pressure and abnormal kidney function. There are also some drugs that can elevate the level of uric acid in your blood, leading to gout. It is important to talk to your doctor about your health, and your family history, and what can be done to combat the chance of gout when you are taking low-dose aspirin, tuberculosis medications, thiazide diuretics, and niacin supplements.
Some symptoms of gout include a sudden onset of pain in one's joints. While it will most often be the joint in the big toe, gout can also affect the wrists, fingers, knees, ankles, and elbow. Warmth, reddish discoloration, swelling, and tenderness are all symptoms of a gout attack. With especially acute gout attacks, one might develop a fever. Like other forms of arthritis, the pain often subsides after a few hours or over the course of a few days. Medication is not necessary, thought most gout patients find it helpful. In some cases, an attack of gout can last for weeks. If you have gout, you will probably experience attacks repeatedly over the years.

Gout has the distinction of usually attacking only one joint at a time (unlike rheumatoid arthritis, which attacks multiple joints at a time). You can be tested for gout with a procedure that withdraws joint fluid for study. This is done under local anesthesia. Getting a solid diagnosis can ensure that you really do have gout, and not some other, similar, condition. Dietary changes, weight loss, and increased fluid intake (especially of water) can decrease the instances of acute gout attacks. Medications for pain relief, to treat inflammation, and also medications to treat the levels of uric acid can be used to further decrease gout.
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