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Gout - is a systemic disease caused by the buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints of the body, causing inflammation, ...
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Gout

Diseases & Conditions A-Z

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ARTHRITIS DISEASE

Joint Inflammation

Gout is a systemic disease caused by the buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints of the body, causing inflammation, swelling and pain.

You wake up in the middle of the night, and your big toe feels as if it's on fire. It's hot, swollen and so tender that the weight of the blanket on it is nearly intolerable.

If so, you might be experiencing an acute attack of gout - or gouty arthritis - a form of arthritis that's characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, redness and tenderness in joints.

Prevention

There's no sure way to prevent initial or subsequent attacks of gout, but if you already have gout, your doctor may prescribe certain drugs to reduce the risk or lessen the severity of future episodes. These drugs include allopurinol (Zyloprim, Aloprim) and probenecid (Benemid). Taken daily, they slow the rate at which uric acid is produced and speed its elimination from your body. In general, keeping uric acid levels within a normal range is the long-term key to preventing gout.

Self-care

Lifestyle changes can't cure gout, but the following measures may help relieve symptoms:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Gradual weight loss will lessen the load on affected weight-bearing joints. Losing weight may also decrease uric acid levels. Avoid fasting or rapid weight loss because doing so may temporarily raise uric acid levels.

  • Avoid excessive amounts of animal protein. Although medications have decreased the need for severe dietary restrictions in people with gout, some dietary changes can help lessen the severity of gout attacks. They may also serve as an alternative treatment for those who have problems with gout medications. Most experts advise eating no more than 6 ounces of lean meat, poultry or fish a day for nearly everyone — especially people who have gout, because high-protein foods increase the blood level of uric acid. Organ meats (liver, brains, kidney and sweetbreads), anchovies, herring and mackerel are particularly high in purines.

  • Limit or avoid alcohol. Consuming too much alcohol can inhibit the excretion of uric acid, which in turn can lead to gout. Limit alcohol to no more than two drinks a day if you're a man and one drink a day if you're a woman or over age 65. If you're having a gout attack, it's best to avoid alcohol completely.

  • Drink plenty of liquids. Fluids help dilute uric acid in your blood and urine.

Arthritis, gouty > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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