Gout is best described as an inflammatory disorder that involves intense joint pain. Many individuals all over the globe have this condition. It is important to note that gout is caused by the accumulation of uric acid which is released by cells in the body and a byproduct of digesting foods rich in protein. Other factors that can affect the ability of the body to process uric acid include genetics, age, intake of certain medications and health conditions. The common risk factors for gout include alcohol abuse, older age, being male, excessive consumption of meat and kidney disease.
What are the general symptoms?
Prior to the onset of joint pain, individuals with elevated uric acid levels experience vague symptoms such as fatigue and low grade fever. The exact reason for these indicators is not yet fully recognized but probable replicates enduring inflammation due to the high uric acid level.
Normally, the uric acid is eliminated from the body by the kidneys. Individuals who have gout could not eliminate the uric acid properly, thus resulting to the high levels in the bloodstream. Those who have long-standing gout, the accumulation of uric acid in the kidneys can disrupt with the uric acid clearance. In rare cases, genetic factors can cause some to produce high amounts of uric acid that will eventually lead to gout.
Once the uric acid accumulates in the kidneys, there is likelihood for kidney stones to form. In most cases, the kidney stones will not cause obvious symptoms but can cause excruciating pain in the back and abdomen. Long-term elevation of the uric acid can lead to a kidney disorder known as urate nephropathy which occurs among individuals who have gout for years. It can later on lead to symptoms of diminished kidney function, poor appetite, severe fatigue and leg swelling.
Skin and joint symptoms
The severe, abrupt joint pain is the most common symptom of gout. Once the uric acid level increases, the uric acid builds up and forms crystals in the joints, resulting to intense pain, redness and swelling. Gouty arthritis usually involves a single joint at a time with the big toe being affected the most. On the other hand, multiple joints including the ankles, wrist, knees and elbows can by affected by gout as well. The crystals of uric acid can eventually cause skin protuberances that are likely to form close to the inflamed joints.
Treatment of gout
Once an individual experiences an acute gout attack, the pain can be treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as naproxen and indomethacin. In some cases, colchicine can also be used to manage the symptoms of gout. Those who have diminshed kidney function, steroids are used instead of NSAIDs or colchicine. The individual should also reduce the intake of meat and avoid alcohol in order to prevent future gout attacks. Pain management measures that you can learn in a first aid course are also helpful in reducing the pain.