To put it very simply, gout is the inflammation of the joints when excess amounts of uric acid crystallize in the joints. Uric acid is a waste product that occurs in the blood due to the breakdown of purines. People who are afflicted by gout do not have the capacity to break down and excrete this excess uric acid from their body. Consequently, the uric acid level in their blood goes up. Slowly, sharp crystal shards of uric acid are formed in the joints and cause painful inflammation. An attack of gout can strike like a bolt from the blue. The excruciating, throbbing pain turns the skin red-hot and the affected joints become tender and swollen.
We all have uric acid in our blood, but those who are unfortunate enough to suffer from gout either produce too much uric acid or cannot excrete enough of it. Often, the big toe is the prime target of the inflammation. So, gouty arthritis is often called “gouty big toe”. But gout can affect other joints of the body including the heel of the hand, the ear, ankles, knees, elbows or wrists.
While Gout can appear in just about anybody, the typical victim is a slightly overweight middle-aged male who has a family history of gout. Out of the 2.5 million people who suffer from gout, at least 80% are middle-aged males. Women are prone to higher levels of uric acid after they reach menopause.
To control gout, we need to have an understanding of the factors that lead to the excessive formation of uric acid in the blood. About one-third of the uric acid in the body comes from food and alcohol. Here is a list of food that contains high amounts of purines (uric acid is a waste product of purines):
-Sardines in oil, herring and fish roes
-Mushroom, spinach, cauliflower, asparagus
-Lentil beans and peas
-High fat dairy products
A person who has gout must restrain him or herself from eating food that is rich in purines. But, gout is not caused by food alone. Poor kidney function works in conjunction with the food you eat to build up the uric acid levels in the blood.
How to control Gout
Other than avoiding the foods listed above, another effective strategy to combat the uric acid build-up is to drink plenty of water. Water detoxifies the system, and by increasing urination helps to avoid the crystallization process. Crystallization happens only when the uric acid levels are excessively high in the blood. Ample exercise also helps in reducing gout by increasing the blood circulation in the body.
Certain foods like tofu, nuts and olive oil seem to help a weak kidney in eliminating uric acid from the bloodstream. A diet that has plenty of complex carbohydrates (whole grain bread and pastas, certain fruits, and vegetables) also alleviates the symptoms. If you suffer from high blood pressure, you must make sure the medication you use does not inadvertently increase the uric acid level in your blood. For some unknown reason, gout seems to attack a joint that has been previously traumatized. Therefore, try to avoid injuries and wear comfortable shoes.
There is no immediate medication for Gout. You can only adopt certain steps that will make the pain manageable. At a time when most patients cannot even bear the weight of a bed sheet on a sore joint, keeping the afflicted joint elevated and at rest is one of the best things to do. An icepack may numb the area and reduce pain. Use a painkiller that reduces inflammation. Some medications like aspirin can worsen matters by causing a rise in Uric Acid levels.