Gout is a common joint disease caused by the formation of uric acid crystals. (a waste product in the body). It can affect any joint in the body, but it commonly occurs in the joint located at the base of the big toe. It is extremely painful. This disease often runs in families.
Gout is sometimes associated with kidney stones and can eventually lead to kidney failure if not treated immediately. It affects more men than women. In men, it occurs after puberty and in women, it usually occurs after menopause.
These crystals can be deposited in other joints besides the toe, such as the ankle, wrist, foot, knee, and small joints of the hand. The deposit of uric acid can cause inflammation and swelling in the joint that is affected by it. A blood test is given to test the level of uric acid in order to decide whether the pain and inflammation is definitely caused by gout.
Other symptoms in the areas affected becomes red and swollen, is very tender and is extremely painful which reaches a peak level of intensity within 24 to 36 hours. The first attack usually involves only one joint and lasts a few days. Some people never have another attack, but most have a second attack between six months and two years after the first.
After the second attack, more and more joints may be involved, and there may be constant pain due to the damage to the joint from chronic inflammation. In many cases, the pain can be almost intolerable!!!! The good news is that the pain can be alleviated with large doses of a non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Treatment should start as soon as an attack begins. As the inflammation subsides, which is usually within two to three days, the dose of medication is reduced and finally stopped. If this medication is not helping, a corticosteroid drug may be injected into the affected joint.
People with gout should avoid foods such as liver and other organ meats, legumes and poultry. Too much alcohol should also be avoided .
Many people do not have more than a few attacks of gout so therefore further treatment is not necessary. If attacks are recurrent, the frequency of these attacks can be reduced by lowering the uric acid levels by the use of certain drugs.
Source: The American Medical Association, Encyclopedia of Medicine