Gout Q & A
What is Gout?
Gout is a type of arthritis that’s caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals in your joints. Uric acid changes into crystals at low temperatures. Since your toes are the coolest part of your body, gout most often affects the joint at the base of your big toe. However, gout can also develop in your midfoot and ankle.
Your body normally produces uric acid. It’s also a waste product resulting from the metabolism of certain types of foods. Though uric acid is excreted in your urine, excessive amounts can raise blood levels and lead to gout.
What Symptoms Develop Due to Gout?
Gout has the unfortunate quality of appearing suddenly and at night. While you’re sleeping, the joint in your big toe becomes red, swollen, and very painful. These acute symptoms may improve in about 10 days, but your joint discomfort can persist.
Without treatment, it’s common to have recurring gout flare-ups that become more frequent and severe. Your condition further worsens when the crystals permanently implant in the joint, a condition called tophi. Tophi subsequently leads to joint damage and deformity.
What Causes Gout?
You’re more likely to develop gout if you have a family history of the disease. Your risk also increases if you:
- Take Certain Medications: Taking low-dose aspirin, diuretics, or nicotinic acid boosts your risk of gout.
- Have a Chronic Health Condition: Your chances of gout increase if you have diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension, or obesity.
- Consume High-Purine Foods: Foods and beverages that contain high levels of purines increase your risk of gout. The culprits include shellfish, red meat, organ meats, red wine, and beer.
How Do You Treat Gout?
When you have an acute gout attack, you should take an anti-inflammatory medication, apply ice, and elevate the joint. It also helps to drink plenty of fluids. Then schedule an appointment at Sacramento Foot and Ankle Center for ongoing care to prevent future attacks.
After reviewing your medical history and performing an exam, your doctor at Sacramento Foot and Ankle Center may order X-rays or blood work to rule out other underlying problems. Once your doctor diagnoses gout, your treatment includes dietary changes and medication.
Your doctor prescribes medications that treat acute symptoms, prevent future attacks, and lower your risk of developing tophi. You may also need medications to lower your blood levels of uric acid.
If you suffer a gout attack, call Sacramento Foot and Ankle Center or schedule an appointment online.