Gout Is A Real Pain
As kids, we would joke about the word "gout". It seemed that whenever something was amiss with one on our older relatives, someone would pin the problem on gout. I truly grew up thinking this was an old world term that could mean anything "not quite right".
Of course, when I grew up, I learned this wasn't the case, and that gout is a real condition that causes people significant pain and discomfort daily. My understanding is that the pain can be so intense that even a light sheet touching the area can be unbearable.
I now feel kinda bad for making fun of this condition, because back then, I'm sure folks simply dealt with the condition, and did their best to alleviate the pain and swollen areas by soaking in the trusty epsom salts and heated wraps. With the knowledge we have now, and the medicines available, it is somewhat easier to control the symptoms and discomfort of gout.
What Is Gout All About?
Sometimes called Gouty Arthritis, it occurs when uric acid builds up in your blood. This can happen when your body produces too much acid or doesn't eliminate enough of it. Eating too many foods with purines, such as too many red meats, shellfish, and beans can also bring on the condition. Pseudogout is sometimes confused with gout, but this is caused by calcium phosphates, and not uric acid.
Often times the big toe is the first area attacked by gout, but it can also affect ankles, heels, knees, wrists, elbows and fingers. Pretty much any jointed area. When one first starts fight with this form of arthritis, the attacks usually get better in a week or two, but, eventually the attacks will last longer and occur more frequently. Where one area may be affected initially, multiple joints may be afflicted over time.
Unchecked, build-up of uric acid can lead to kidney stones, and untreated can cause permanent damage to the kidneys and joints.
The Gout Out website has a wealth of information regarding gout.
- A low-cholesterol, low-fat diet not only lowers your risk for gout, but it lowers your risk of heart disease. People with gout have increased risk of heart disease.
- Losing weight can lower your uric acid levels. You will want to lose weight slowly, as rapid weight loss can sometimes precipitate gout attacks.
- Restricting alcohol intake, especially beer, will help in alleviating and preventing gout.
- Hydration is important.
- Increasing dairy intake, such as nonfat milk and yogurt can lower frequency of attacks.
- Limit use of aspirin to 1 or 2 a day.
- Watch for lead exposure at home, work and with hobbies.
Some things such as family history of gout, or being male are risk factors obviously out of your control, but there are many things that can help alleviate incidents of gout attacks. Work closely with your doctor, and be diligent with medications and diet.
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