Uric Acid & Gout, Its Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment
I happened to have had a colleague whose husband died from initially having this Gout disease and so I was motivated to do a little research and share this to everyone. I too have occasional symptoms of gout but was able to manage it by keeping myself informed and I hope to inform many as well.
Uric Acid and Gout
Gout is a metabolic disorder or the body’s inability to process uric acid, the final metabolite or by-product of purines. Purines are natural substances that are naturally present in most of the food we eat that’s being broken down by our body’s digestive & waste system to help build up our body cells & tissues. Uric acid acts as an anti-oxidant and helps protect our blood vessels & its linings.
Normally, uric acid is dissolved in blood and flushed out by the kidney through urine. Gout occurs when uric acid in the blood have increased to a higher level which when crystallized, triggers our body’s immune defense system to cause inflammatory reaction on our joints, tendons and surrounding tissues where they are deposited. It is a form of arthritis.
Symptoms of Gout
It appears as a red, tender, swollen, painful joint/s, usually in the base of our big toe (metatarsal phalangeal joint). It is also called “podagra” when it specifically affects the big toe. Other joints such as heels, knees, wrists & fingers may also be affected.
A moderate attack usually lasts within 2-4 hours and may specially occur during the night when our body’s temperature is low. It may also be accompanied by fatigue & high fever. The attack depends on the severity of gout, it can lasts for days or even weeks. It normally subsides even without medication but can be recurring over a period of time.
Causes of Gout
The main cause of gout is hyperuricemia or over-production/too much uric acid in the blood. Note though that not all individuals with hyperuricemia has gout because the former can manifest in other ways such as but not limited to - stone formation in the kidney, urate nephropathy, chronic arthritis & other diseases.
Other causes are:
Dietary – like obesity, over consumption of alcohol, fructose-sweetened drinks like those in colas & artificial juices, purine-rich foods, sea foods & meat organs like chicken/pork livers, kidneys etc. Diuretics like teas are also indicated to trigger gout.
It can also be associated with other medical conditions like metabolic syndrome, under-renal excretion of uric acid in urine, sleep apnea, surgery, physical trauma etc. It may also be as a side-effect of synthetic drugs or medicines like aspirin, niacin, cyclosporine, hydrochlorothiazide, ethambutol & other medicines which can elevate the level of uric acid in the blood.
It is also partly genetic or hereditary. (I can attest to that)
Foods to Avoid GoutClick thumbnail to view full-size
Prevention of Gout
Frequent occurrence can be prevented by making changes in lifestyle & dietary choices: adequate intake of Vitamin C, frequent drinking of water, enough sleep, regular exercise, involving on sporty activities to help avoid obesity, avoiding or limiting purine-rich foods & alcohol. Examples of purine-rich foods are shellfish/seafood, beef/lamb, beans/peas, beers & other alcoholic beverages.
Treatment and Cure for Gout
Not a medical advice: Use of pain relievers such as Acetaminophen relieves pain while non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAID such as Naproxen reduces/eliminates swelling. For frequent attacks, allopurinol provides relief & long-term prevention. Allopurinol decreases the level of uric acid in the blood by blocking the metabolic conversion of purines in the food we ate to turn into uric acid. However this drug should not be taken if the patient already has poor kidney function. Once taken by the patient, it should be maintained at the same doses, lowering or increasing its dosage only encourages gout attacks.
US FDA approved the use of Febuxostat in 2009 to manage hyperuricemia and gout but the same precaution should be done as with taking Allopurinol. Febuxostat though has advantage over Allopurinol as the former is not significantly metabolized by the kidney thus it is safer to use by those with kidney problems.
It’s still best to consult a doctor for proper medication. It is also suggested to have your uric acid level be monitored regularly by undergoing blood test and/or urine test or other related tests.
As gout is a progressive disease, it is recommended that you seek medical treatment. If this condition is unattended or not medically treated, frequent attacks or episodes of gout may lead to chronic gout which may result to deformity and/or destruction of joint surfaces, bone erosion, kidney stones and other cases.
Gout comes from the Latin word “gutta” which means “a drop” (of liquid). It was historically known as “disease of the kings” or “richman’s disease”. It was the English physician Alfred Baring Garrod who discovered that the excess uric acid in the blood is the cause of gout.
Benjamin Franklin had gout and once wrote “ Be temperate in wine, in eating, girls and sloth; Or the Gout will seize you and plague you both”
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© 2011 Caroline Guillermo
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