What is gout?

Gout, which used to be known as a “rich man’s disease”, is more common than thought. Gout is when there is an increased in uric acid crystals in the body that are then deposited in different joints in the body. The most common joint being the big toe joint, followed by the ankle joint.

How do I get gout?

Gout is more common in men than females and starts in the 30-50 age range. This does not exclude someone older or younger than this. If an attack is not treated a second attack at some time in the future is common.  It is recommended that if you have 2 or more attacks to be on medication for the rest of one’s life.

How do I know if I have gout?

An acute gouty attack usually happens overnight. It begins when someone wakes up and their foot is red, hot and swollen. Usually patients say that even the bed sheets cause severe pain to the area. Usually patients are in so much pain they have a hard to walking and usually limp their way into the office.

Can I prevent an attack?

Certain people are prone to attacks based on genetics, other medical problems and diet. A large component of gout is based upon one’s diet. Foods to avoid include shellfish, sea food, wine, beer, organ meats. Lifestyle changes can go a long way in preventing gout. Low BMI, exercise and caffeine are ways to prevent a gouty attack.

How is gout diagnosed?

The most accurate way to diagnose gout is to take the fluid out of the joint that is red, hot and swollen. This fluid is then sent to the laboratory and inspected for gouty crystals. This process many take a few days and therefore, many physicians treat gout based on the clinical symptoms and appearance of the joint.

How do I treat gout?

Acute gouty attacks can be treated many ways.  A cortisone (steroid) injection into the joint that is affected helps with reducing the pain, swelling and inflammation. Different oral medications can help as well. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication), Colchicine, a steroids are a few medications that can be used in an attack. You physician will discuss which medication is the best for you based upon your other medical problems. If someone has more than 2 attacks, consultation with a rheumatologist is recommended. At this point Allopurinol or Probenecid medication is recommended for long term use.

If you wake up with a red, hot, swollen painful foot do not wait and call your doctor an emergency appointment. Your doctor will need to rule out an infection and delaying treating gout can have long term consequences to your bones.