Gout is a type of arthritis and, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t only affect the elderly. While it is more common among those over 30, people of any age can suffer from this condition.
Gout is caused by an excess of uric acid in the blood. Normally, aslightly elevated level of uric acid is not harmful, but when the levels become too high, the acid may form hard crystals in the joint. This could cause severe burning pain, swelling and stiffness in the joint.
While gout can affect any joint, the most common place for it to strike is in in the big toe. While both men and women can be affected by gout, it is more common in men.
Causes of Gout
There are many things that can cause gout to develop, but the most common are:
- Being overweight.
- Drinking too much alcohol, especially beer.
- Drinks sweetened with fruit sugar (fructose) promote higher levels of uric acid
- Consuming excessive amounts of meat and fish that have a high content of Purines and other chemicals.
- Certain diseases and conditions increase risk of gout, like high blood pressure diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease and kidney disease.
- Family history of gout.
- Certain types of medications, especially prolonged use of diuretics.
- Recent trauma or surgery could trigger gout.
Symptoms of Gout
Symptoms of gout almost always occur suddenly, and often at night. They include:
- A sudden attack of pain.
- Swelling, tenderness and redness of the big toe.
- Continuous ache under and around big toe.
- Stiffness of the toe.
The duration of the attacks can vary from a few days to a few weeks. Once the attack has passed there is no way of knowing when the next one will occur; it could be days, weeks months or even years.
Gout can be a debilitating medical condition that can affect a patient’s lifestyle. But with proper medication and care on the part of the person suffering from the condition, and with good podiatric support and guidance, it can be controlled and the impact on the quality of life minimized.