What Is Gout?
Affecting approximately 4 percent of American adults, gout is a form of arthritis that causes severe pain. Brought on when the body retains too much uric acid instead of eliminating it through urine, gout may lie dormant until triggers such as infection; consuming alcohol, red meat or shellfish; or suffering a joint injury bring on the uncomfortable symptoms.
While these triggers cause gout attack, they don’t necessarily cause the condition. Common factors that increase the risk for gout are:
- Being overweight, such as diuretics or aspirin
- Undergoing chemotherapy
- Family history of gout
- Taking certain medications
Gout may be present when burning pain is experienced, particularly when focused on the big toe. Other symptoms include:
- Fever — In some cases, gout symptoms are accompanied with fever.
- Pain — While often focused on the big toe, pain can arise elsewhere, such as in the fingers, wrists, elbows, knees, ankles or heels and often occurs in the night.
- Red joints — Affected joints can become red, warm and tender to the touch.
- Residual discomfort — When the pain of gout passes, ongoing discomfort can remain and last for a few days or even weeks.
- Stiffness — Range of motion may become limited in long-term cases of gout.
There is currently no cure for gout. However, by treating gout flare-ups early, symptoms are minimized, making it possible to continue tasks of daily living. Treatment options include:
- Lifestyle changes — Avoiding certain foods and drinks, reaching and maintaining a healthy weight, and drinking plenty of water can all ward off future flare-ups of gout.
- Medication — For immediate pain relief, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications or corticosteroids are commonly prescribed.
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