Gout is a kind of arthritis and can cause an attack in a joint, usually a big toe. Ankles, heels, and knees are fairly common sites too. Gout occurs through the over production of what is known as uric acid in the body which then forms uric acid crystals and gets trapped in the space between two joints. This causes inflammation of the surrounding area and the joint swells, stiffens, and throbs with pain. We all have uric acid in our bodies. When this acid is at the correct level then the body has its own mechanisms for getting rid of it, normally through urine and other bodily waste products. When people suffer from gout it is because they have much higher levels of uric acid than is normally the case. This condition is known as hyperuricemia which occurs because the body is not able to break down such high levels of uric acid.
There are a number of contributing factors that may indicate whether or not you might suffer from gout. Gender plays a big part in this as men are probably nine times more likely than women to develop gout. This may be because men already have higher levels of uric acid than do women. Genetics can also play a part in whether or not you will suffer from gout as research indicates that twenty five percent of people with gout have a family history of the condition. Lifestyle and diet can play a part as certain foods, e.g. seafood which contains a substance known as purines - when these purines break down they can cause a rise in the level of the uric acid which is the prime cause of gout. Over indulgence in alcohol, particularly beer can lead to gout, as can obesity and diets that are rich in purine - so avoid too many fatty foods, carbonated drinks, too many carbohydrates and certain seafoods.
The goal of gout patients is to minimize or prevent future gout attacks. Getting early treatment, when initial gout symptoms occur, and lifestyle modifications are important measures to take. It is important to maintain a healthy/balanced diet, avoid purine-rich foods, drink plenty of fluids/water, exercise and maintain a healthy body weight.
Several of our PMG Research sites are currently enrolling gout studies so be sure to visit our website for more information available in your area.
Researchers continue to make advances that help people live with gout. Perhaps some day these advances will prevent this extremely painful disease.
Article adapted from goutinformation.org