The major cause of gout is the accumulation of uric acid in the joints. The uric acid is a chemical that is a natural part of the normal breakdown and build up of food in body tissues. The level of uric acid may be found and measured in the blood.
The condition where there is a rise in blood’s uric acid level is called hyperuricaemia. With the presence of such condition it is no wonder that uric acid crystals are formed in the joints. These crystals are responsible for the inflammation called gouty arthritis or acute gout.
Gout usually attacks people whose uric acid level has always been above normal. There are various reasons why uric acids level increases in the body:
• The higher than normal uric acid levels may be inherited in some families
• Obesity was also found to cause gout attacks
• High alcohol and caffeine intake
• High intake of food containing purines
• Some drugs used to treat high blood pressure and long standing kidney diseases
The first step in treating gout is to correct the factors that increase the levels of uric acid in the body. Patients should also work to refrain from eating purine rich foods since these substances are found to contain a lot of uric acid.
Here are foods high in purines and to be avoided:
• Organ meat products such as liver, kidneys, tripe, sweetbreads and tongue,
• Excessive amounts of red meat, shellfish, fish roe and scallops,
• Peas, lentils and beans,
• Alcohol and caffeine intakes should be reduced. A glass of beer a day or less is recommended
• Crash diets should also be avoided
• Some drugs for high blood pressure may need to be altered or adjusted
An important aspect of treating gout is lowering the uric acid levels. There are some drugs that can bring down the uric acid level in the body. However, it should be noted that these drugs only temporarily treat symptoms of gout and should not be taken on a long-term basis. The dosage is based on the level of uric acid found in the body. Regular check ups are required in order to arrive at the maintenance dosage that will prevent recurrent gout attacks.
As long as the level of uric acid continues to be lower than the normal any symptoms of gout are a remote possibility. Provided of course that medication is continued. Some drugs work by increasing elimination of uric acid through the kidney while others simply hinder the formation of uric acid in the first place.
Likewise, it is important for patients using medications to realize that during the first few months of treatment, it is still possible to have gout attacks, however severe gouty attacks are lessened.
Some of the complications of long time and acute cases of gout are deposits of uric acid salts that may appear around the affected joint and even in tissues in the earlobes. These uric acid salts are chalk colored nodules, and are also called tophi. The presence of uric acid salts is an indication further treatment is needed.