Many individuals are developing a painful medical condition that affects the joints, tendons, and other tissues of the body. These same individuals are concerned about this pain that they are experiencing and asking the simple question, “What is gout, exactly?” Because the gout attacks are so sudden, victims are not aware of how to ease the pain or even stop the attacks. Often associated with arthritis, specifically, rheumatic arthritis, gout affects about 275 per 100,000 Americans.
Gout is the most painful form of arthritis as it is referred to as ‘gouty arthritis.’ The gout attacks generally occur during the night. People who experience such attacks for the first time actually complain of excruciating pain in the big toe.
However, the condition is also known to affect the knees, elbows, ankles, wrists, heels, and fingers. In addition to the sharp pain, the affected area will display swelling, redness, heat and stiffness. Initial gout attacks may last up to three hours. Future attacks may occur months or even years thereafter.
Gout is the result of a high concentration of uric acid in the blood. In most people, the uric acid is excreted from the kidney. However, an excess buildup of uric acid in the blood leads to hyperuricemia. Once this occurs, the buildup deposits hard crystals or urates onto the joints; thereby causing the gout attacks. There are several risk factors for developing gout. Although there is no permanent cure for this disease, it can be prevented and controlled. Some contributing risk factors include:
- Men over 30
- History of disease in family
- Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
- Excess exposure to lead in the environment
- Received an organ transplant
- Eat foods rich in the chemical called purines
- Enzyme defect in which the body has difficulty breaking down the purines
- Take certain hypertensive medications
Basically, what is gout?
- It is the body’s buildup of uric acid
- The uric acid is not properly flushed away by the kidney
- The individual is consuming foods high in the chemical purine