Gout is common, incurable, and painful. Finding out that you have a disease that fits that description can cause worry, to say the least! However, knowing a little more about what you’re dealing with can be helpful.
At Rheumatology Solutions, our experts understand that getting diagnosed with gout can bring about many questions. The good news is that it’s a condition that can be well-managed, and since gout is a common form of inflammatory arthritis, researchers understand it well and have developed effective techniques and treatments to manage it.
In this post, we answer some of the most common questions we get when someone is newly diagnosed with gout.
What is gout?
Gout is actually a specific type of arthritis, which means it’s a disease of the joints. Usually, if you have gout, only one joint at a time hurts, and often, it’s the joint of your big toe. You’re likely to have times when you have more intense symptoms, called flares, and times when you don’t have symptoms at all, which is called remission.
How long do flares last?
A flare may begin suddenly, with no warning, and can last a few days or a few weeks. Periods of remission may last for months or even years.
What causes gout?
Some foods contain chemical compounds called purines. When your body breaks down purines, uric acid is formed. When you have too much uric acid in your bloodstream, it can build up, and you have a condition called hyperuricemia.
Hyperuricemia can lead to gout, though it doesn’t always. The uric acid forms crystals, called monosodium urate, and those crystals can build up in your joints, fluids, and tissues, and when that happens, you have gout.
Are there risk factors for gout?
Some people are more likely to get gout than others. For example, though women can get gout, it’s more common in men. Other risk factors include:
- Being obese
- Having some health conditions, such as hypertension, insulin resistance, and diabetes among others
- Taking certain medications
- Drinking alcohol
- Eating a diet rich in fructose, red meat, organ meat, and some types of seafood
How is gout treated?
When you have a flare, our goal is to help you manage the pain. We may suggest you take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), a drug called colchicine, or steroid medications such as glucocorticoids. The goal of all these medications is to reduce inflammation safely and quickly.
Another good approach to managing gout is to make some changes to your lifestyle. We can help you know which foods are higher in purines and should be avoided. You should avoid alcohol and take part in regular physical activity.
Personalized advice is important
If you have questions, consider jotting them down so that you can ask them during your next appointment with us. Learning to manage a chronic condition can be overwhelming, but our staff is ready to help.
Your specific situation is unique, so getting direction from a professional who understands your medical history and current condition is important. We can help you understand any changes you need to make to your diet or lifestyle. Schedule an appointment today.