Gout can occur in anybody; however, the likelihood of men getting gout is higher. Women are more prone to gout after menopause.
A sudden acute attack may wake you up while you are asleep in the middle of the night with a burning sensation in your big toe. The joint that is affected is often very hot, swollen and tender enough to make the weight of a bed sheet unbearable while sleeping.
Luckily, gout is treatable condition and you can follow many preventive techniques to reduce chances of recurrence.
Signs and symptoms
Signs and symptoms usually involve a sudden acute pain in the middle of the night, which may also include:
- Intense pain in the affected joint. Gout is most likely going to affect the large joint at the base of your big toe but it can also affect the joints of the feet, ankles, knees, wrists and hands. The pain often flares up within 12 to 24 hours of onset.
- Prolonged discomfort. Even if pain subsides, discomfort in the joint may linger for a few days to a few weeks. Attacks that occur later often ten to cause discomfort that lasts longer, affecting more joints.
- Redness and inflammation. The affected joint may become tender, swollen and red due to inflammation.
When to seek medical help
See your doctor if you experience a sudden and intense pain in any joint of your body. If left untreated, gout may progress causing pain that will be much worse along with damage to the joint.
Seek emergency medical help if your joint is hot, red and inflamed and if you have a fever as this may be a sign of an infection.
Gout occurs as a result of the accumulation of urate crystals in the joint that is affected causing acute pain and inflammation during an attack. Urate crystals form when the body contains a high amount of uric acid, which is produced by the breakdown of purines. Purines are derived naturally from food sources such as anchovies, mushrooms, asparagus and organ meats.
Uric acid dissolves in the blood, passes through the kidneys and gets drained out with your urine. However, sometimes, the body may produce excessive amounts of uric acid or your kidneys do not excrete urine adequately. This may result in uric acid buildup that forms into needle-like sharp crystals surrounding a tissue or joint causing extreme pain, swelling and inflammation.
Gout treatment usually involves the usage of certain medication prescribed by your doctor based on your current health state. Gout medications may treat acute attacks and also reduce future attacks in order to reduce complications that arise due to this condition.
Medication for gout attacks include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to control pain and inflammation
- Colchicines, if NSAIDs are ineffective
- Corticosteroid medication to reduce inflammation and pain
Be sure you ask your doctor about the possible side effects of prescribed medication.
Other medication may be taken to prevent complications due to gout such as:
- Medication that block the production of uric acid such as xanthine oxidase inhibitors
- Medication to improve removal of uric acid such as probenecid
Medication is the most effective treatment for gout; however, you may follow these lifestyle changes to reduce chances of gout from recurring:
- Drink 8-16 cup of fluids per day
- Avoid alcohol
- Limit daily consumption of meat, poultry and fish to 4-6 ounces
- Consume proteins moderately, preferably from low-fat sources, tofu, eggs, nut butters and fat-free dairy