Gout is one of those medical conditions that you would rather not share with friends and family. Back in the days of Roman emperors, it was a sign of wealth and a rich lifestyle.
Being able to dine on seafood, meat and lots of alcoholic beverages seemed to be the normal characteristics of older men that suddenly developed gout. This gave the peasants something to finally laugh about; the rich were finally getting their due from living high on the hog. Although this picture is no longer relevant, the snickers and joking continue, causing an awkward discussion.
We have come a long way since the 17th century and have made great strides in discovering the root cause of gout within the human body. Gout is not classified as a life-threatening disease but can become chronic and very painful. These 5 common questions may help you to understand that you are not alone in dealing and treating your gout problem.
1. Why is my big toe the major area of gout pain?
A. Podagra is the medical term associated with gout pain in the big toe. Uric acid in the bloodstream tends to settle in the lower extremities. Since your feet carries the bulk of your weight, this is a common area for the uric acid to settle and crystallize. Other areas of the feet may experience pain as well. Ankles and the joints surrounding the small sesamoid bones located near the big toe are also targeted areas for gout.
2. Why is the pain so sudden and so extreme?
A. Those experiencing gout in a joint for the first time may fear that they have sprained or broken bone. Although the discomfort is just becoming obvious to you, the uric acid has been building inside of your bloodstream for quite some time. Only when this acid finds an area to stop and begin to crystallize will you feel the agonizing pain.
3. My diet has changed very little over the past 20 years. How can gout be associated with the foods that I eat?
A. It is hard to point to any other major reason for an attack of gout besides diet. Purines are often a big source of causing too much uric acid. Red meat and organ meats, some vegetables, and alcohol may be too much for the kidneys to adequately get rid of, allowing uric acid to build for a long time. Drinking too little water and carrying excess weight can also cause uric acid to stay in the blood stream.
4. How long will this pain last and will it return?
A. Most gout attacks will last anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks. The inflammation can subside with proper medication, but over half of those diagnosed will have repeat occurrences. Keeping your uric acid levels low and consistent is key in reducing return flare ups. Learn to drink plenty of water and avoid purines for avoiding future outbreaks. Your doctor will be able to monitor the amount of uric acid in your blood to keep you on the right track.
5. Why didn't I see symptoms of this gout attack coming so I could avoid it?
A: There are no current recommendations for checking the uric acid levels in one's bloodstream in the medical field. Only after a physician is made aware of the pain in certain joints are blood tests taken for levels of uric acid. The best way to avoid a painful gout attack is to be aware of the causes and to address through lifestyle and diet changes. You'll know a gout attack is happening when sudden severe pain and swelling occurs in the joints. They may also turn red.
6. What causes gout?
A: Gout is simply caused by an excess of uric acid. This is typically caused by the diet of the person involved. Some of the foods high in uric acid have been mentioned already. They include seafood, organ meats and alcohol. Speaking with a doctor and a dietician can help determine the exact foods a person is eating that is causing gout to flare up.
Gout is experienced by millions of Americans but does not have to control your life. Our bodies are designed to function well through proper nutrition and keeping our system flushed out. Hopefully, these questions and answers will help you to avoid this common type of arthritis before it strikes.
The information contained in this article should not be used to replace the advice, care, diagnosis or treatment from a medical doctor, certified personal trainer, therapist, dietitian, or nutritionist.