15 Most Common Signs of Gout
Once upon a time, gout or gouty arthritis was known as the “disease of kings.” It was considered to be more prevalent among overweight, wealthy men who could afford to over-indulge in alcohol and fatty foods. While obesity and diet remain important risk factors for gout, your bank account or social class is no longer connected to the risk of developing this joint condition. The incidence of gout increases and become more than doubled between the 1970s and 2000s. Today, approximately four percent of U.S. adults are suffering from this.
Gout is a form of the joint condition that causes severe, sudden attacks of inflammation. It happens when there is too much accumulation of a chemical called uric acid in your blood. This causes urate crystals to build up in your joints and other body organs, leading to the telltale gout pain. Your body makes uric acid from the breakdown of purines, a natural substance found in your body as well as in some foods. While the diet itself is not associated with causing gout, certain drinks and foods may trigger its flares. People who develop gout usually have some genetic predisposition coupled with other risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, or kidney disease that cause uric acid to accumulate in the body.
Although gout is more prevalent in men, women can get it too – and its incidence in them goes up sharply after menopause due to hormonal imbalance. In short, anyone can develop gout, provided his or her body doesn’t properly break down uric acid in the blood, so it has a chance to accumulate in the joints.
Signs and Symptoms Of Gout
Gout typically becomes symptomatic suddenly without warning. It frequently affects the large joint of the foot such as metatarsal joint of the big toe and knee joint, but can also attack the ankles, elbows, fingers, and wrists. It usually progresses through various stages, and its signs and symptoms are thus are experienced differently according to the stage. These include;
It is essential to recognize that although almost all patients with gout have high levels of uric acid in the blood (hyperuricemia), not all patients with hyperuricemia develop gout. Before having their first gout attack, most patients will have raised levels of uric acid in the blood for many years. However, there are no definitive guidelines for treatment during this period, especially in the absence of apparent signs or symptoms of gout. This stage of gout with active uric acid in blood but no clinical signs is termed ‘asymptomatic hyperuricemia.’
The risk of an acute gouty attack increases with elevated uric acid levels. But, interestingly, many patients can have attacks with “normal” levels of uric acid, while others will never get an attack despite high levels of uric acid. This can be attributed to genetic predisposition and other socio-environmental factors.