Gout is a word that came from the Latin term gutta and the old French word gote, which means “a drop”. Nowadays, gout is referred to a type of disease or health condition that affects the joints of the bone. This was first thought to be caused by drops of viscous humors that have seeped from the blood into the joints. But what is gout and what causes it?
Definition of Gout
Gout or gouty arthritis is a type of complex disorder that is described as the accumulation of uric acid in the blood thus causing uric crystal deposits to form in the joints. This joint problem is common among men compared to women. This is due to men’s higher level of uric acid in the blood than women. However, menopausal women can also be at risk of having this type of health condition.
What are the Symptoms of Gout
There are actually several signs and symptoms that can indicate the presence of gout or gouty arthritis. These symptoms also depend on a case to case basis. However, all of these symptoms are general acute, which means they come suddenly without any warning. Most people who suffer from gout experience these symptoms at night. One of the most common and classic signs of gout is the presence of extreme or severe pain in the joints, which includes the hands, ankles, knees, feet and wrists. Gout can also affect the big toe making it swell and become very painful to move. This is called as podagra. People with gout may also describe the affected areas to be warm. This is can also be caused by the inflammation of the bursae or the fluid sacs that cushions the tissue. This condition is medically known as bursitis. If this affects the elbow, then it is called as olecranon bursitis. However, if it affects the knees then it is already termed as prepatellar bursitis. Aside from these, the presence of redness and swelling of joints can also be noticed in the affected areas. Gout is also usually mistaken as infection by many people since the affected parts of the body may show a pink or purplish discoloration. Fever is likewise expected in patients with gout. This can be a normal reaction of the body to the pain and discomfort felt in the affected areas.
The flexibility of the joints may also be affected once gouty arthritis is experienced. Because of this, the movement of the patient is said to be limited. However, there are also patients that are asymptomatic to gouty arthritis. This means that there are no symptoms present in the condition. Nevertheless, this can still result to the occurrence of chronic gout. Nodules or tophi can also be observed in the elbows, ears and hands of a person with gouty arthritis. This is said to be the first symptom to appear in this condition.
Gout can be a very annoying and irritating condition. A bout of its symptoms can last for about a week if it is left untreated. This; however, will gradually go away in the following week or two. In addition to these, itching and skin peeling can also be observed around the affected area as the symptoms of gout begin to subside.
Possible Causes of Gout
Just like what is mentioned above, gout occurs due to the increase in uric acid levels in the blood which is medically known as hyperuricemia. This condition causes the urate crystals to build up around the joints thus causing the different symptoms of the disease such as the severe pain and inflammation. But where to uric acid come from? Uric acid is actually a byproduct to the breakdown of a certain chemical known as purine. Purines are naturally found in the body; however, this chemical can also be acquired through food such as sardines, anchovies, canned goods, organ meats, mushrooms, herring and even asparagus.
As soon as the purine is broken down by the body, the uric acid that is formed is usually released through the urine. However, once the production or uric acid is too high compared to its release, this substance can start to accumulate thus causing the sharp urate crystals to lodge into the joints. Because of this accumulation and lodging, gouty arthritis is possible to occur. However, recent studies have shown that most people with hyperuricemia never experience the development of gout. Because of this, genetics is also being classified as a triggering factor in causing the disease. A person is said to be at higher risk of developing gout once his or her relatives have histories of hyperuricemia.
Conditions that Increases the Risk of Developing Gout
There are actually a lot of factors that can contribute to the development of uric acid in people. Some of these factors include obesity, increase in alcohol consumption, low calorie diets, high purine diets, regular use of aspirin, niacin and diuretic medications, sudden weight loss, presence of certain health conditions and diseases such as chronic kidney disease, tumors, psoriasis, myeloma, hemolytic anemia, lead poisoning, Kelley-Seegmiller Syndrome, hypothyroidism, Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome and some types of surgeries.
Treatment of Gout
Gout can actually be treated with the use of several medications such as NSAIDs or Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs, which lessens the inflammation and the pain of the condition. Colchicine is also another type of medication that can effectively treat gout. Nevertheless, caution must be observed in taking this drug since certain side effects such as diarrhea, nausea and vomiting may occur this drug is used. Steroids are also common drugs prescribed by doctors in treating the symptoms of gout. This drug can be given orally or can be injected directly into the joints. Steroids are usually taken by patients who are not able to tolerate NSAIDS and Colchicine.
These are just some of the important facts and information about the condition gout, which includes the definition, the causes, the signs and symptoms, the different contributing factors and the various medications to treat the disease.