Gout is a disease that affects the joints with pain and inflammation in your big toe or ankle. Left untreated, it can lead to painful foot deformity and even kidney problems. The good news is that treating it early, you can relieve pain and help prevent future problems. The disease can usually be treated with medication and proper diet. In severe cases, surgery may be needed.
Gout is caused by an excess of uric acid (a waste product made by the body). The uric acid forms crystals that collect in the joints, bringing on an attack. If you have many attacks, crystals may form large deposits called tophi. Tophi can damage joints and cause deformity.
Who Is at Risk:
Men are more likely to have gout than women, but women can also be affected, mostly after menopause. Some health problems, such as obesity and high cholesterol, increases the risk for the disease. Some medications such as diuretics (water pills) can also trigger an attack. People who drink a lot of alcohol are at high risk. Certain foods can also trigger an attack:
- Alcohol (beer, red wine)
- Meats (red meat, processed meat, turkey)
- Organ meats (kidney, liver, sweetbread)
- Shellfish (lobster, crab, shrimp, scallop, mussel)
- Fish (anchovy, sardine, herring, mackerel)
Your doctor will ask you questions about where and how often you feel pain, your diet, medications, and much alcohol you drink. Your doctor will examine your feet for signs of redness, heat, and swelling to indicate gout.
Gout attacks are painful and often happen more than once. Taking medications may reduce pain and prevent attacks in the future. There are also some things you can do at home to relieve symptoms.
Your doctor may prescribe a daily long-term control medication to reduce levels of uric acid. This may help prevent gout attacks. Other medications can help relieve pain and swelling during an attack.