Gout is a form of arthritis that develops in people who have high levels of uric acid in their blood. It can affect anyone, but men are more prone to the disease. However, women become more susceptible to gout after menopause.
When you have a gout attack, you may experience sudden and severe pain, redness and tenderness in the joints, often in the base of the big toe. Gout can also affect your ankles, elbows, fingers, heels, instep, knees, and wrists. Your affected joint is hot, swollen, and tender to the touch. Symptoms of gout are:
If you have high levels of uric acid in your blood, uric crystals can form. Gout occurs when these crystals accumulate in your joint, causing inflammation and pain. Uric acid is the result of the breakdown of purines in your body. Purines are found in foods such as steak and seafood. Also, stressful events and alcoholic beverages like beer, and drinks sweetened with fructose can also bring on a gout attack.
There are several factors that can contribute to high levels of uric acid in your body. You are more likely to have gout because of your age or sex, taking certain medications, diet, a family history of gout, medical conditions, being overweight, drinking too much alcohol, or a recent surgery or trauma.
To diagnose your gout, Dr. Pacheco may conduct a joint fluid test using a needle to withdraw fluid from the affected joint. This fluid is examined under a microscope to see if there are urate crystals present. He may also recommend a blood test to measure the levels of uric acid and creatinine in your blood. Additional testing might include X-rays, ultrasound, or a CT scan.
Gout can be treated with medications such as over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Dr. Pacheco also may prescribe medications to relieve the inflammation and pain. In addition to medications, lifestyle changes may be recommended. Lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy diet, avoiding foods high in purines, drinking plenty of water, taking medications prescribed by your doctor as directed, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy bodyweight, and follow-up visits with Dr. Pacheco are the steps you can take to manage your gout.
*Individual results may vary
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