What Increases My Risk For Gout
You may have been born with a decreased ability to break down and get rid of purines. Your body’s ability to break down purines may be very slow. Gout is more common in men than in women. Any of the following can also increase your risk:
- A family history of gout
- Kidney disease or problems with how your kidneys work
- Eating foods that are high in purines, such as red meat
- Alcohol or tobacco use
- Diuretic medicine , or aspirin
- A medical condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol
- A condition such as an irregular heartbeat or a blood clot in your lungs
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Gout
Gout flares start suddenly and can last days or weeks. These flares are followed by long periods of remissionweeks, months, or yearswithout symptoms before another flare begins. Gout usually occurs in only one joint at a time. It is often found in the big toe. Along with the big toe, joints that are commonly affected are the lesser toe joints, the ankle, and the knee.
Symptoms in the affected joint may include:
- Pain, usually intense
Ways To Deal With Painful Gout Attacks
Its difficult to focus on work or other daily activities when youre experiencing gout inflammation and pain. Symptoms can last for a few days or even weeks, with the worst pain usually occurring in the first day or two.
While the best thing to do is talk to your physician, there are several steps you can take right away ease your gout symptoms:
Excess uric acid in the bloodstream can lead to the formation of uric acid crystals in one or more joints, resulting in gout.Read:All About Gout Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment
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What Are The Symptoms Of Gout
An episode of gout is called a gout attack. Gout attacks are very painful and can happen quite suddenly, often overnight. During a gout attack, symptoms in the affected joint may include:
- Intense pain.
- Tenderness, even to light touch, such as from a bedsheet.
- Warmth, or a feeling like the joint is on fire.
- How long does a gout attack last?
A gout attack can last a week or two. Between gout attacks, you may have no symptoms at all.
Diagnostic Evaluation Of Gout In Foot
What goes into a gout diagnosis? These procedures are options:
- Joint aspiration. Fluid is withdrawn from the joint and inspected for crystals and bacteria.
- Blood tests. White blood cell count, ESR , triglycerides, and kidney function may be elevated.
- X-ray. An x-ray of the affected joint is likely to appear normal during an initial acute episode, but in chronic gout, bone erosion and overhanging edges may be seen.
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What Is The Fastest Way To Get Rid Of Gout
Medications for acute gout attack: These medications are usually prescribed to treat an acute attack of gout:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs : These can quickly relieve the pain and swelling of an acute gout episode. They can shorten the attack, especially if taken in the first 24 hours.
- Corticosteroids: These drugs can be taken by mouth or injected into an inflamed joint to quickly relieve the pain and swelling of an acute attack. Corticosteroids usually start working within 24 hours after they are taken.
- Colchicine: An anti-inflammatory medicine that works best if taken within the first 24 hours of a gout attack.
Medications for reducing uric acid levels: These are usually prescribed after an acute attack ends to reduce uric acid levels in the body to prevent future attacks.
- Colchicine: Regular and low doses of colchicine may be given along with other medications below to prevent flare-ups.
- Allopurinol: It reduces uric acid production in the body.
- : It reduces uric acid production in the body.
- Probenecid: It acts on the kidneys to help eliminate uric acid.
- Pegloticase: This is a medication that is injected every 2 weeks. It reduces uric acid quickly and used when other medications fail.
Lifestyle and home remedies to treat acute gout and can prevent recurrent attacks:
- Limiting or avoiding alcohol consumption and drinks sweetened with fructose
- Limiting intake of foods high in purines, such as red meat, organ meats, and seafood
- Drinking plenty of fluids
Whats The Outlook For People With Gout
Untreated gout can lead to permanent joint damage. The buildup of uric acid in the joints and soft tissue is called tophus. Some people with gout can also develop other health problems, such as severe arthritis, kidney stones and heart disease. Its important to discuss your symptoms with a healthcare provider.
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When Is Surgery Considered For Gout
The question of surgery for gout most commonly comes up when a patient has a large clump of urate crystals , which is causing problems. This may be if the tophus is on the bottom of the foot, and the person has difficulty walking on it, or on the side of the foot making it hard to wear shoes. An especially difficult problem is when the urate crystals inside the tophus break out to the skin surface. This then can allow bacteria a point of entry, which can lead to infection, which could even track back to the bone. Whenever possible, however, we try to avoid surgery to remove tophi. The problem is that the crystals are often extensive, and track back to the bone, so there is not a good healing surface once the tophus is removed. In some rare cases, such as when a tophus is infected or when its location is causing major disability, surgical removal may be considered.
Since it is hard to heal the skin after a tophus is removed, a skin graft may be needed. For this reason, we often try hard to manage the tophus medically. If we give high doses of medication to lower the urate level, such as allopurinol, over time the tophus will gradually reabsorb. In severe cases, we may consider using the intravenous medication pegloticase , since it lowers the urate level the most dramatically, and can lead to the fastest shrinkage of the tophus.
What Else Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider About Gout
Consider asking your healthcare provider:
- What is causing the gout?
- Do I have any joint damage?
- What can I do to prevent future attacks?
- Can any gout medications help me?
- How long will I need to take gout medications?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Gout is a painful form of arthritis. Extra uric acid in your body creates sharp crystals in the joints, leading to swelling and extreme tenderness. Gout usually starts in the big toe but can affect other joints. Gout is a treatable condition, and the uric acid level can be decreased by medication and lifestyle changes. Talk to your healthcare provider about medications that can reduce uric acid levels. They can also discuss changes you can make to your diet and lifestyle to prevent and reduce gout attacks.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/15/2020.
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The purpose of the Southern Cross Medical Library is to provide information of a general nature to help you better understand certain medical conditions. Always seek specific medical advice for treatment appropriate to you. This information is not intended to relate specifically to insurance or healthcare services provided by Southern Cross. For more articles go to the Medical Library index page.
Home Care For A Gout Flare
If your doctor has diagnosed you with gout and given you medicine for a flare-up, take the medicine as directed when you know youâre having one. In most cases, that will probably be as soon as the first signs begin.
Your doctor may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as celecoxib, indomethacin, meloxicam, or sulindac or suggest you take over-the-counter NSAIDs, like naproxen or ibuprofen. Depending on your medical history, your doctor may prescribe steroids or other medicines to reduce inflammation, such as colchicine .
In some cases, you already may be taking medicine like colchicine to prevent gout flare-ups. Your doctor may have also suggested:
If you canât take allopurinol or it is not effective, your doctor may prescribe . It should be used with caution, however, because it has been linked to increased risk of death from heart disease and from other causes.
Just because you have a flare doesn’t mean these medicines aren’t working. In the first few months that you take them, you may have an attack as your body adjusts to the drug. Your doctor will likely have given you something to take if this happens, too.
If youâve been taking preventive gout medicine for a long time and youâre having flares for the first time in a while, call your doctor. They may talk to you about changing your dosage or your medicine.
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What To Do During An Attack
- take any medication you’ve been prescribed as early as possible after you notice an attack this should start to have an effect within two or three days
- rest and raise the limb
- avoid knocking or damaging the affected joint
- keep the joint cool remove surrounding clothing and apply an ice pack, such as a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel
- ensure you’re well hydrated
Apply the ice pack to your joint for around 20 minutes. Don’t apply ice directly to your skin and don’t apply it for more than 20 minutes at a time because this could damage the skin.
If necessary, you can keep reapplying an ice pack to your skin during an attack, but you should wait until your skin has returned to a normal temperature first.
When To See A Doctor
Gout occurs without warning. Anyone experiencing intense pain on the big toe, followed by warmth, tenderness, redness or discoloration, should immediately seek medical attention.
If a person does not receive treatment for gout, it can lead to joint damage over time, including bone erosions and arthritis.
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How To Know If Your Gout Is Progressing
As you become more familiar with gout symptoms, you may be able to sense that a gout attack is coming on. Worsening of pain, swelling, redness, and warmth of the affected joint during the attack is the sign of progression of that attack, Dr. Meysami says.
In addition, the disease overall may progress with recurrent or more frequent gout attacks with longer duration, the involvement of more joints, and the presence of tophi, Dr. Meysami says.
If you have more than one gout flare a year, its really important to get on a regular gout medication, says Dr. Fields.
Can Gout Be Prevented
Some people with gout experience recurrent attacks, which may be prevented by using prescription medications. These medicines work by lowering uric acid levels in the blood. The most commonly used is allopurinol. This helps to lower uric acid levels by reducing the body’s production of uric acid.
You can also reduce your chance of having further attacks of gout by adopting some sensible lifestyle changes, such as:
- reducing alcohol intake avoid binge drinking, in particular
- gradually losing weight if you are overweight, while avoiding fad diets
- eating a healthy, balanced diet
- drinking plenty of water, especially when at risk of dehydration
There is no scientific evidence that particular foods cause gout, but some studies have shown that people who are prone to gout are more likely to eat foods rich in purines a substance that’s converted into uric acid within the body.
Foods with high levels of purines include:
- red meat and offal such as liver, kidneys and heart
- seafood, especially shellfish, scallops, mussels, herring, mackerel, sardines and anchovies
- foods containing yeast such as Vegemite and beer
It’s best to seek the advice of your doctor or an accredited practising dietitian before making any changes to your diet. Most people with gout find that a healthy, balanced diet along with medication is enough to reduce their uric acid levels.
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Pain In Your Knees Ankles Wrists And/or Elbows
While uric acid crystals tend to deposit themselves near the big toe, they can form in any joint in the body. That means severe, unexplained pain in any joint could be a sign of gout.
Some people develop pain in just one joint , but about 25 percent of gout patients have polyarticular symptoms meaning they strike more than one joint at a time, says Dr. Huffstutter.
Managing A Gout Flare
Gout flares are unexpected and painful heres how to get a handle on them.
Few things in life are more painful than a gout flare, so if youre awakened in the wee hours by a joint that is tender, swollen, red and radiating heat, youll want to act fast. Heres what you can do when a gout flare starts to ease the pain and reduce the risk of others.
Take Medicine You Have on Hand. Start treatment immediately with over-the-counter ibuprofen or naproxen , but never take aspirin, which can worsen a flare. If you have had a flare before and your doctor has prescribed an anti-inflammatory medication to take in the event of another, take your prescribed medication as your doctor directed. If you are already taking a uric acid-lowering drug to reduce the risk of flares, continue to take that drug.
Ice Down. Applying an ice pack to the painful joint may help ease pain and inflammation. Wrap a pack in a dish cloth and apply to the area for 20- to 30-minutes at a stretch several times a day.
Let your doctor know what is going on right away. She may prescribe a new medication, or have you come to the office for a joint fluid test or an injection of a corticosteroid to start relieving inflammation quickly. Getting treatment within the first 24 hours of the start of a flare can lessen its length and severity.
Get a Cane. Walking with a cane during an acute gou flare can help keep pressure off your painful joint.
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Quick Solutions To Get Rid Of Gout
Medications represent the most popular option when it comes to overcoming gout attacks. These medications are most commonly prescribed by doctors. NSAIDs represent the most popular options out there. They can quickly reduce the inflammation, but they will also relieve the painful sensations associated with it. Ideally, they should be taken within the first 24 hours after the attack for maximum efficiency.
Corticosteroids represent another common solution. They usually require prescriptions, and they are taken orally. Sure, they can also be taken through direct injections in the affected areas these injections are also administered by specialist doctors and only in more severe cases. Once in the body, injections will work within hours only. Oral corticosteroids will start working within the first 24 hours after the administration.
Last, but not least, it is worth considering colchicine as well. The medication is also given with a prescription. It is an anti-inflammatory drug and it will be more efficient if taken within the first day of a gout attack. Just like for most other treatments, the faster you react, the more successful the medication will be against the gout attack. Delay it some more thinking that it will go away and you will most likely experience more intense pains.
Diagnosis And Tests For Gout
Gout and other forms of arthritis can mimic each other. Determining the presence of uric acid crystals is key to a diagnosis. Even though uric acid is the culprit for gout, testing uric acid levels through blood tests can be misleading, since many people with high uric acid levels dont develop gout.
Gout attacks typically start at night with sharp pains caused by the uric acid crystals. If you think you have gout, a visit to the doctor can help you know for sure. The doctor will try to locate the crystals to diagnose gout by extracting fluid from the joint. Analysis of the fluid reveals the presence of uric acid crystals.
Initial tests for gout involve patterns of joint use, checking for other characteristic symptoms, and examining a timetable for your pain. For chronic and long-term joint pain, X-rays and ultrasounds can show damage to the joints.
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Lifestyle Changes To Help Foot Gout
Treating foot gout in the long-term requires a combination of lifestyle changes and medications. After you have taken the right medication to treat your gout flare and manage uric acid levels, you should be taking steps to correct your lifestyle. Theres only so much pills can do so its important to accompany it with habits that support your condition.
Start with your weight. You probably have gout because you are overweight or obese. You want to lose the excess fat since that contributes to the strain you feel on your feet. Exercising regularly and cutting back on food intake can significantly help with your goal of losing weight.
Only go for real whole foods and avoid items that trigger your gout such as processed foods. I recommend the 80-10-10 diet where 80 percent of your daily calories consists of complex carbohydrates, 10 percent as protein and the final 10 percent as fat.
Its important that you learn how your body reacts to each food item as every person has a different physiology. What may trigger an attack on you may do nothing for the other person. Start by eliminating common culprits such as sugar, alcohol, seafood, and organ meats.
You may need to keep a diary to track your food and medication. That way whenever you have a gout attack in your foot, you can trace back what you ate and learn what caused the trigger.
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