What Is Gout & How Is It Caused?
Gout is a common cause of joint pain and inflammation, so it’s important to really understand it: what it is, how it occurs, who’s at risk, and what you can do about it.
This article is going to give you an overview of everything you need to know about gout!
If you want to jump right to the section you can click on the links below.
What Is Gout?
Gout is a type of arthritis; arthritis is a group name for any type of joint inflammation.
When you have gout, you will suddenly experience extreme pain, redness, swelling, stiffness, tenderness, etc. in one or more of your joints. It really hurts. Many gout sufferers say even a sock or a bedsheet is too much pressure on their aching joint.
Normally, it’s found in the big toe, but it’s also pretty common in the ankles, knees, hands, and elbows.
A gout attack will typically last between 3 and 10 days. It most often starts in the night. Sometimes it ends there. Sometimes it keeps coming back. When this is the case, it often gets worse by affecting more joints and increasing the body’s inflammation.
How Is Gout Caused?
Inside of our bodies, we have something called purines. They’re found in our DNA and RNA. We also eat purines in our food – meat is a big source, but so are some veggies and alcohol. When purines breakdown, they turn into a waste product called uric acid. That uric acid dissolves and gets removed along with your urine (sometimes with your feces).
Both purines and uric acid are normal, and the process is just part of a healthy body.
But sometimes it doesn’t work that way.
There are lots of different factors that can make you have more uric acid in your body. And there are lots of different factors that can make it harder for you to excrete that uric acid from your body.
In either case, the uric acid builds up, which is called hyperuricemia. That’s where the problem really starts.
Too much uric acid will turn into something called urate crystals. These are sharp crystals that cause inflammation. Eventually, they accumulate in a joint and cause the extreme pain, tenderness, and swelling that we know as gout.
What Are the Gout Risk Factors?
I’ve already talked about the fact that there are many factors that will lead to the uric acid buildup, so what are they?
- Sex: Gout is almost entirely a man’s disease. Though some women can get gout, it’s still rare and typically doesn’t happen until after menopause when her protective estrogen levels have plummeted.
- Age: Gout more often happens to older people than younger people.
- Being overweight/obese: Being overweight makes your body produce more uric acid and it also inhibits your kidneys from excreting uric acid.
- Crash Diets: Some people may think they should lose weight quickly to avoid gout, but studies have shown us that extreme weight loss plans can actually spur on gout.
- Your food intake: If you eat a lot of high-purine foods (mostly meat and alcohol), you may have too much uric acid in your body.
- Medical conditions: Illness like kidney problems can lead to elevated uric acid.
- Genes: If there’s a family history of gout, your chances of developing this form of arthritis goes up.
- Surgery: If your joint has been through the trauma of surgery, the risk of gout goes up.
- Trauma: Any sort of trauma to the joint (injury, car accident, etc.) can lead to gout.
What Are the Gout Warning Signs?
Gout doesn’t really come with many warning signs. Often it shows up suddenly without any sort of symptoms that would lead you to believe it may be arriving. That’s why it’s important to know the risk factors above, as well as the tips for prevention I’ll mention in a minute.
Should You See a Doctor for a Gout Attack?
If it’s the first time you’ve experienced the symptoms of gout, you should visit your doctor to confirm it is indeed gout and not another type of joint pain/arthritis. They will typically perform some of the following tests:
- CT scan
- Blood work
- Joint fluid tests
If you have had gout before, still call your doctor in case he/she wants to see you again. They may want to reassess your lifestyle habits and go over medication, surgery, etc. to slow down or stop the gout before it leads to joint damage or other complications like:
- Recurrent gout
- Advanced gout (when the urate crystals form actual nodules under your skin)
- Kidney stones
How You Can Treat a Gout Attack
If you’ve found yourself in the middle of a gout attack, there are some things you can do to make the next few days as bearable as possible:
- Try pain medication: Over-the-counter NSAIDs can bring you some relief; sometimes your doctor will prescribe corticosteroids.
- Elevate the joint: Your joint needs to be propped up on a pillow or stool for the most comfort.
- Ice: When you’re elevating your joint, gently place an ice pack on the area to calm the inflammation and numb some of the pain. Be sure you don’t leave the ice pack on for more than 15 or 20 minutes at a time.
- Use assistive devices: If your gout is in your big toe, use a cane or walker to help prevent too much pressure from falling upon your inflamed joint.
- Rest: Anytime your body is dealing with acute inflammation, you need to rest so it has a chance to heal up properly.
- Take natural supplements: There are plenty of natural supplements that can help balance your uric acid and relieve your symptoms. The Eu Natural Purge! Uric Acid Cleanse includes four of the most useful – celery seed extract, cherry extract, chanca piedra, hydrangea extract.
How You Can Prevent Gout
There are fortunately quite a few things you can do to prevent a gout attack. Here are the top steps:
- Keep a healthy weight: Start a regular exercise regimen, cut out processed foods, and hire a trainer/dietician if you need to.
- Do a purine diet overhaul: Greatly lower or even cut out the foods with the highest number of purines – game meat, organ meat, red meat, dark-skinned poultry, and some seafood.
- Say goodbye to alcohol (at least beer): All alcohol has purines and dehydrates you, but beer is the worst. Wine is the best choice if you still want to enjoy an occasional drink.
- Supplement smartly: Continue to take the ingredients in your uric acid cleanse.
- Take enough vitamin C: Add some daily vitamin C supplementation, which has been shown to regulate your uric acid production.
- Drink lots of water: The more water you have going through your system, the lower your chances of dealing with concentrated uric acid buildup.
- Talk to your doctor about medications: If you have tried all the natural, home remedies for dealing with gout and you’re still getting gout attacks, you’ll need to talk to your doctor about taking medications that lower your uric acid production or help the kidney’s remove your uric acid.
Now that you have a better understanding of what gout is, how it’s caused, and what you can do about it, you can be empowered to make educated decisions about your health. If you’ve never had gout, but feel you fall under some of the risk factor categories, be sure you’re following some of the tips for prevention.
If you’re already a gout sufferer, see if there are any new steps you can take to reduce your risk and talk to your doctor about the options they can provide.