What is gout?
Gout is a kind of
arthritis. It can cause an attack of sudden burning
pain, stiffness, and swelling in a joint, usually a big toe. These attacks can
happen over and over unless gout is treated. Over time, they can harm your
joints, tendons, and other tissues. Gout is most common in men.
What causes gout?
Gout is caused by
uric acid in the blood. Most of the time, having too
much uric acid is not harmful. Many people with high levels in their blood
never get gout. But when uric acid levels in the blood are too high, the uric
acid may form hard crystals in your joints.
Your chances of
getting gout are higher if you are overweight, drink too much alcohol, or eat
too much meat and fish that are high in chemicals called purines. Some
medicines, such as water pills (diuretics), can also bring on gout.
What are the symptoms?
common sign of gout is a nighttime attack of swelling, tenderness, redness, and
sharp pain in your
big toe . You can also get gout attacks in your foot, ankle, or knees. The
attacks can last a few days or many weeks before the pain goes away. Another
attack may not happen for months or years.
See your doctor even if
your pain from gout is gone. The buildup of uric acid that led to your gout
attack can still harm your joints.
How is gout diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask questions about your
symptoms and do a physical exam. Your doctor may also take a sample of fluid
from your joint to look for uric acid crystals. This is the best way to test
for gout. Your doctor may also do a blood test to measure the amount of uric
acid in your blood.
How is it treated?
To stop a gout attack, your doctor can give you a
shot of corticosteroids, or prescribe a large daily dose of one or more
medicines. The doses will get smaller as your symptoms go away. Relief from a
gout attack often begins within 24 hours if you start treatment right
To ease the pain during a gout attack, rest the joint that
hurts. Taking ibuprofen or another
anti-inflammatory medicine can also help you feel
better. But don't take aspirin. It can make gout worse by raising the uric acid
level in the blood.
To prevent future attacks, your doctor can
prescribe a medicine to reduce uric acid buildup in your blood. If your doctor
prescribes medicine to lower your uric acid levels, be sure to take it as
directed. Most people continue to take this medicine for the rest of their
Paying attention to what you eat may help you manage your
gout. Eat moderate amounts of a healthy mix of foods to control your weight and
get the nutrients you need. Avoid regular daily intake of meat, seafood, and
alcohol (especially beer). Drink plenty of water and other fluids.
Frequently Asked Questions