When the body becomes overloaded with uric acid, the result is gout – a disease that is becoming increasingly prevalent. This is a debilitating disease that is highly preventable. In order to avoid gout, you must know what causes this disease and for you to be treated, you should know the different gout symptoms.

Known as the ‘rich man’s disease,’ gout is one of the most common disorders that was frequently recorded throughout history. In the United States, there are about 5 million people who are suffering from this disorder. It is more common in males, occurring after puberty and mostly after reaching the age of 75. In women, it occurs usually after menopause. It is a progressive disease that can lead to deposits of uric acid in tissues in the body, especially in areas around the joints as well as a decrease in the functioning of the kidneys.

Hyperuricemia is the reason behind the occurrence of gout. There are several reasons why hyperuricemia or the increase in uric acid and gout happen. Diets that involve consumption of meat, seafood, alcohol and sweetened drinks with fructose increase the chances of having gout. Gout is also a hereditary disorder, occurring in about 60% of gout patients. Certain medical conditions also lead to gout which includes metabolic syndrome, hemoglobin disorders, lymphoma and leukemia. Medications that are known to increase the risk of having gout are aspirin, diuretics, niacin, cyclosporine and medications for tuberculosis.

The diagnosis of gout starts with recognition of the signs and symptoms. During the asymptomatic stage, the uric acid level rises in the blood but there are no gout symptoms yet. The acute stage happens for about five to ten days, with the initial gout symptoms. You will notice sudden attacks of joint pain usually in the knees, elbows, ankles, wrists and fingers. The joints will also feel hot and tender. You will also notice that these affected joints will look bruised and swollen. Even without treatment, these gout symptoms will disappear after two weeks.

The inter-critical stage is the stage between the first and second attack. The second attack will happen in about six months to two years but for some, they will only have it after five to ten years. Without proper treatment, the chronic stage will then happen. At this stage, the gout symptoms will become worse, with the joint pains becoming persistent. There will also be uric acid deposits in the cartilage and the membranes between the tendons, soft tissues and bones. The skin over these uric acid deposits will begin to develop sores releasing a white pus. Other gout symptoms at this stage include joint stiffness and limited range of motion over the affected joints.

Treatment is available for gout and it should be done as soon as a diagnosis is made. There are two goals in treating gout and these are to stop the acute inflammation of the joints and to prevent further attacks. To do that, you have to make some lifestyle changes such as avoiding alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight, having adequate fluid intake and avoiding foods that are rich in purine such as organ meats and shellfish. There will also be medications that will be given to you for pain relief and to stop the inflammation of the joints during acute attacks.

Even if treatment is available for gout, you should always keep in mind that prevention is better than cure. If you can prevent this disease from occurring, then do so before you experience the discomforts brought about by gout symptoms.

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