Gout is a form of arthritis that is caused by the build-up of a substance found in the body called uric acid. This acid is used by the body to break down a common substance in many different foods known as purines.
When people suffer from gout, the uric acid that has built up in their system begins to form jagged crystal-like formations in the blood stream. It is these painful little crystals that cause the horrible swelling and pain that gout is known for. But what causes the uric acid build up and how do you know if you’re having a gout attack?
The causes of gout attacks can be attributed to many different things. Foods high in purines are a common culprit. Things like salmon, seafood and alcohol. Also, offal meats (parts of animals we eat other than muscle, like liver and kidney’s) are suspected of causing gout because of their high purine content.
For reasons unknown to doctors, about 75% of gout sufferers’ first start to feel an attack in the joint of the big toe. Other likely joints that might signal a gout attack are the ankle, knee or elbow.
The pain associated with gout comes from two different sources. There is the sharp, stabbing pain caused by the crystals that get caught in the toe joint, as well as the pain caused by the swelling and inflammation of the tissues around the joint.
Gout has four stages that a sufferer could end up going through if the condition is left untreated. The first is asymptomatic, which simply features rising levels of the sinister uric acid rising in the blood stream, but before any symptoms manifest.
The second is acute gout, which features a person’s first gout attack, most of which go away quickly and there isn’t a frequent reoccurrence. Remember, the sooner you get treatment, the sooner the pain will go away. The average case of gout lasts only a day or two with proper care.
The third stage of gout is inter-critical, which is just the symptom-free time between attacks, and the fourth and final stage of gout is the chronic stage. Chronic gout is made up of multiple bouts of the disease and the gout attacking more than one joint at once.
If gout isn’t treated properly, serious health problems can arise, such as kidney damage and the formation of kidney stones, as well as hypertension (high blood pressure).
While there is no “cure” for gout in the traditional sense, since the disease can return anytime there is an imbalance in your body’s uric acid levels, there are many different treatments and you can effectively eliminate the risk of gout through natural means.
Most doctors prescribe a change in diet from foods high in purine to foods that help the body absorb excess uric acid in the blood stream. Most berries and fruit are great at absorbing uric acid, whereas foods high in protein, such as chicken or even tofu should not be eaten at all during a flare up since it is believed those foods make matters worse.
In conclusion, even though gout is associated with a period in history long gone when knights on horseback were busy saving fair maidens, it is very much an ailment of today’s world. But with the proper diet and early diagnosis, the horrible pain of gout can be controlled.
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