The signs and symptoms of gout can manifest once there is surplus uric acid in the body. The monosodium urate crystals that build up in the joints due to the excess uric acid can lead to the development of gout.
Uric acid is the waste product normally present in the blood due to the degeneration of purines. It is important to note that purines are part of all human tissue and also present in various foods. The ingestion of foods packed with purines can elevate the levels of uric acid in the bloodstream and increase the risk for gout attacks in some individuals.
The excess level of uric acid in the blood is called as hyperuricemia in which there is an increased production of uric acid in the body or inadequate elimination of uric acid. It is vital to be familiar with the signs and symptoms linked with gout so that recurring attacks can be properly managed or prevented.
How to recognize the symptoms of gout
Gouty arthritis is used to describe sore, recurrent attacks of joint inflammation. Essentially, there are 3 stages of gout that you should be familiar with.
- Asymptomatic hyperuricemia – there is elevated level of blood uric acid without any symptoms of gout
- Acute intermittent gout – a single joint becomes sore and inflamed which lasts for about 2 weeks if not treated and less if managed. The symptoms might not recur for weeks, months or even years.
- Chronic tophaceous gout – the joint becomes inflamed more frequently and causes discomfort. More than one joint is affected at this phase and the crystals might accumulate and form tophi which are bumps below the skin. There is also the possibility for kidney stones to develop.
Gout is more prevalent in men, individuals who have kidney disease and women after menopause. It is important to note that the condition has been associated with hypertension, obesity, diabetes and hyperlipidemia. Additionally, there are genetic factors involved since it also has a tendency to run in families.
What happens during a typical gout attack?
- The start of an attack is relatively rapid. Oftentimes, symptoms such as pain, warmth, redness and swelling start at night time.
- Throughout 8-12 hours, the level of pain becomes worse which involves minimal twinges to intense pain.
- The big toe is usually affected by gout. Other areas that are affected include the ankles, midfoot, heels and knees while less common areas include the elbows, wrists and the fingers.
- An individual will find it difficult to walk when an attack affects the lower extremities.
- Malaise, fever and chills can also occur during the acute gout attacks.
The objective of treatment is to reduce or prevent future attacks. Prompt treatment during the initial symptoms and lifestyle modifications are essential.
The lifestyle modifications include an anti-inflammatory diet, cutting down weight and reducing the intake of alcohol. Those who suffer from infrequent attacks might be tempted to ride it out and disregard the severity. Remember that there is no cure for the condition. The symptoms should not be ignored and the individual should take effort in managing the disease or else the attacks will become frequent and more intense.