Our bodies are systems, and like all systems, each element and component needs to be fully equipped and functional in order for everything to run smoothly. However, there are some illnesses that affect the body’s ability to function, ranging from mild to severe and affecting the way that we normally live our lives. These illnesses can be asymptomatic, manifesting internally and often going unnoticed before the body resolves them without further intervention, or they can cause debilitating pain that makes it difficult to perform regular tasks that one could previously do without any problem.
One of the more common diseases that make it difficult to live normally is arthritis, affecting approximately 350 million people worldwide. Under the scope of arthritis is gout, a complex classification of arthritis that can affect patients of any age or gender, with several risk factors contributing to the likelihood of anyone developing the condition. Read on to find out more about gout symptoms and causes, as well as how to manage and prevent it.
What is Gout?
Because gout falls under the umbrella term “arthritis,” it is a condition that targets a patient’s joints, causing joint pain and functionality with effects escalating in the long run. It is classified as an inflammatory form of arthritis, causing joints to inflame and subsequently limiting a patient’s range of motion and making it difficult for them to bend joints without significant discomfort or even pain. This is caused by abnormally high levels of uric acid in the body, which then form crystals that interfere with the movement of joints, preventing them from functioning as they normally should. Patients with gout typically experience sudden attacks of pain in and around affected joints.
Patients that have developed this condition will usually feel its effects primarily in the joint found in the big toe, as it is the area that is most commonly observed to be affected by gout. However it has also been found in joints all around the body, including other areas in the foot such as the ankle and other toes as well as higher up in the body such as the knees, elbows, hands, and wrists. A gout attack can occur unexpectedly and suddenly, with many patients stating that the pain is so intense that even the mere sensation of fabrics like socks or bedsheets causes the discomfort to worsen.
As a condition that may cause chronic pain, gout can significantly affect a patient’s quality of life. If you or anyone you know is experiencing gout symptoms, the best thing would be to seek help as soon as possible and address the problem with the expertise of a medical professional. For a telehealth solution that provides expert advice in a quick, convenient, and accessible way, read more in our FAQs
What are the Symptoms of Gout?
Gout symptoms often manifest unexpectedly, and many patients have reported waking up at night because of gout attacks. Some common symptoms include:
- Intense joint pain – Joint pain caused by gout is typically most intense when it first begins, within the initial four to 12 hours. Although the big toe is the main joint most commonly affected by gout, it can also develop and manifest in other joints at the patient’s extremities such as the knees, ankles, fingers and wrists.
- Inflammation and redness – Apart from internal pain that patients experience, there are also visual cues for gout symptoms. Externally, patients may also observe tenderness in the affected area, as well as warmth, pain, and swelling caused by the abrasive movements between the uric acid crystals and the joints.
- Limited range of motion – As the condition progresses patients might find themselves having an increasingly difficult time using the joint effectively, with the pain and discomfort preventing them from using the joint’s usual range of motion.
- Lingering discomfort – Although pain is most severe in the first hours, the discomfort caused by a gout attack can linger from a few days to a few weeks after initial symptoms manifest. As the condition progresses, some patients may experience that this period of discomfort will manifest in other joints and last for a longer time.
Understanding these symptoms are key to addressing gout effectively, but there are also risk factors that contribute to a patient’s likelihood of developing gout. To find out how you can consult with a qualified doctor about gout and other medical conditions as early as within the day, learn how Eva works here.
Who's Affected by Gout?
There are several contributing factors that can affect a patient’s risk levels of developing gout, and understanding and assessing these circumstances are a good initial step to preventing and managing a patient’s condition. These are commonly linked to the levels of uric acid a patient has in their body. Some common risk factors include:
- Genetics – As with many other medical conditions, if a patient has a family history of gout, they are also at risk of developing it later in life.
- Diet – A patient’s dietary choices can directly affect their uric acid levels, putting them at risk of developing gout. Some common foods to regulate to lower this risk are red meat, shellfish, and drinks that contain fructose (fruit sugar). Alcohol consumption, especially frequently drinking beer, may also increase the patient’s uric acid.
- Weight – When a patient is overweight, their bodies tend to produce more uric acid and their kidneys tend to have a hard time processing and eliminating it. Because of this dual effect, weight is a significant contributor to a patient’s likelihood of developing gout.
- Age and sex – Because women’s bodies typically produce less uric acid than men’s bodies, gout is more common in men. However, after they have reached the menopausal stage, their uric acid levels can rise to a level that puts them at risk of developing gout. Men also tend to develop gout earlier than women, with symptoms manifesting between the age of 30 and 50.
Gout risk factors vary from case to case and patient to patient. The best place to begin when addressing the onset of this condition would be to discuss with a medical professional. Our doctors are well-trained and fully equipped to handle any concerns you may have about gout and how to prevent and manage it.
How to prevent gout?
Although there are many risk factors that affect a patient’s likelihood of developing gout, there are also ways to manage it. Some common lifestyle changes that are helpful in managing your uric acid levels are:
- Avoid or limit alcohol – Alcohol, especially beer, hinders the body from processing and eliminating uric acid. Limiting your alcohol intake (or even better, avoiding it completely) can considerably lower your risk of spiking your uric acid levels and triggering a gout attack.
- Drink plenty of water – Apart from its many health benefits, staying properly hydrated works wonders for keeping kidneys healthy and helping them flush out toxins from your body – including uric acid.
- Maintain a healthy diet – Maintaining a healthy diet not only stops your body from the intake of food that can spike your uric acid, it also allows you to maintain your weight. Staying within a healthy weight prevents your body from producing unhealthy levels of uric acid and makes it easier for your kidneys to eliminate uric acid.
How EVA Teleconsult Can Help With Gout
Seek medical care if you suddenly feel intense and unexpected pain in a joint, especially in your big toe. Leaving the condition undiagnosed and untreated can cause gout to progress, leading to more prolonged and more intense joint pain.
EVA Teleconsult’s physicians are fully capable of helping you manage almost any chronic condition, including gout. This is because our patients know they can expect:
- Same-day and on-time appointments – Our doctors will never make patients wait, because we understand that their time is valuable.
- Guaranteed 30 minutes of consultation time – We make sure our patients have enough time to ask all their questions so all their concerns are addressed. At the same time, we provide full explanations about their condition so they can make an informed decision about their health.
- Five-star rated doctors – Our patients are frequently so pleased with the care they receive, they can’t help but provide kind feedback about their physicians.
Gout can cause intense and chronic pain for patients, preventing them from activities and significantly affecting their day to day lives. Take the first step in taking control of your health, free from the chronic pain and worry of gout, and contact us today.