Gout is a serious rheumatic disease of metabolic origin, affecting men two or three times more frequently than women. It is caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the blood. These elevated levels may be caused by various factors. The presence of uric acid in the body is common, but people affected by gout lack the uricase enzyme that dissolves uric acid. The uric acid then settles in the body and causes attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis - pain in joints.
Primary and Secondary Gout
Primary gout is hereditary; uric acid processing by kidneys is distorted. Other factors that may negatively influence occurrence and course of gout are mainly excessive consumption of fat meat and intestines and excessive drinking of alcohol. Other risk factors include insufficient drinking regime, obesity and lack of movement. Obese people suffer from gout more frequently than healthy people.
A typical gout patient is an obese man in his forties (risk group are men from 20 to 40 years of age. In women, gout usually breaks out after they turn 50). Secondary gout occurs as a consequence of other diseases, e.g. leukemia.
Gout is sometimes called the disease of kings, a rich man's disease. It has been known since the Antiquity and Middle Ages, the name "disease of kings" is related to excessive consumption of fatty foods and alcohol which could only be enjoyed by the top strata of population at the time.
Other names of gout stem from the places where uric acid crystals settle and attack occur; e.g. inflammation of toe joints (especially the big toe) is called podagra. However, this inflammation may also manifest in joints of hands and in the shoulder.
Crystals emerging from uric acid are thorny, they penetrate into poorly perfused tissues (mainly joints) where they get stuck and start sticking with their thorns.
Gout and Its Symptoms
- Elevated levels of uric acid in the blood – medically called asymptomatic hyperuricemia, is a stage where the affected person may still show no symptoms. Approximately 10% of population have elevated levels of uric acid in the blood, but only in one tenth of that number experience a gout break out (usually these are people with a genetic propensity for gout).
- Gout attacks – attacks often come unexpectedly, they are often manifested by pain in the big toe, the affected joint is very sensitive, painful, the skin in the inflamed area is red and swollen. The onset symptoms are usually accompanied by overall fatigue, fever and chills. These symptoms usually take a week, but the affected person may continue to suffer problems even longer; the onset symptoms may persist for as long as 6 weeks.
- Intercritical period - a period of peace when the patient appears to be fully recovered
- Chronic tophaceous gout – depositing of so-called tophi – uric acid crystals deposited in the vicinity of the joint; this is a long-term gout condition This leads to damage to tissue which manifests by deformities and decreased flexibility of the affected joint. Apart from joints, crystals may deposit also on the earlobe, on the heel and on toes. In some cases, skin in the area may burst and yield thick chalky matter to the surface. Other problems that may accompany the condition of elevated uric acid levels in the blood is occurrence of kidney stones which may emerge anywhere in the urinary tract. One of the main causes is insufficient intake of fluids.
Gout and Related Risks
Gout and its symptoms, even the onsetting ones, warn us that we do not take proper care of our body. When neglecting the treatment or cheating with the fairly rigid diet that follow a gout onset in a patient, severe complications may occur. One of the possible complications is the occurrence of kidney stones. They may occur anywhere in the urinary tract When a kidney stone gets from the kidney space into the urinary tract, they may sometimes manifest with sudden and intense pain in the hip, it is a so-called colic which is usually accompanied with overall sickness, vomiting and sometimes also diarrhea. The pain is of convulsive or even cutting character and it comes in waves as the kidney stone makes its way through the urinary tract. Prevention is based on sufficient drinking regime.
During gout, the affected person is also at risk of diabetes, increased cholesterol level, high blood pressure and various diseases to the cardiovascular system.
Gout Diet - Unsuitable Foods
When affected by gout, the patient should reduce the intake of foods containing purines that cause existence of uric acid. It is mainly meat, intestines (lungs, spleen, kidneys,...). Furthermore, it is unsuitable to ingest animal fats and proteins in foods; they are in blue cheeses and fatty cheeses. Other not recommended foods include legumes, hot spices, chocolate and cocoa. Alcohol and smoking are completely prohibited.
Gout Diet - Recommended Foods
First and foremost, maintain a sufficient drinking regime, you should drink up to three litres of fluids a day. Recommended beverages are water, fresh unsweetened juices, fruit teas. Increase your consumption of dairy products, especially low-fat yoghurts and cheeses or sour dairy products. During diet limited by gout, eating fresh vegetables is essential: lettuce, carrot, celery, potatoes and tomatoes as well as fresh fruits: bananas, avocados, apples, apricots. Cereals are also good: both white and dark bread, millet, brown rice.
Other Tips and Recommendation for Gout-Affected People
- Eat regularly and maintain sufficient drinking regime.
- Establish light vegetable meals for two or three days in a week.
- Maintain the purine-free diet.
- Get rid of excess weight.
- Establish some regular movement in your week.
- Technological processing of food when you have gout is boiling and stewing.
Medicine Mitigates Symptoms But Doesn't Cure Gout
In case you have the aforementioned symptoms of gout, seek medical help immediately. In the initial stage of treatment, a doctor will prescribe some medicine that will help mitigate acute pains. In cases of acute problems, doctors prescribe antirheumatics, analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs. Seek out medical help also in case you feel pain resembling the condition of kidney stones' evacuation
If you have suspicion for gout, your physician will take a sample of blood and urine from you in order to determine the concentration of uric acid. Gout cannot be fully treated, but its symptoms can be mitigated. One of the treatment options is sucking the fluid out of the inflamed area, treatment focuses on mitigation of problems and brings immediate relief.
The usual medicine for gout is colchicine which is retrieved from autumn crocus. It is administered in small doses until the symptoms start to abate. If your physician prescribed you colchicine, do not combine it with drinking other herb teas!
You can also use prescribed medicine which reduces the production of uric acid in combination with other medicine that supports its excretion.
Natural and Supplement Treatment of Gout
It is also suitable to detoxify and regenerate the body and place cooling poultices on the affected region. Poultices with rosebay willowherb to place on painful joints help reliably.
Drink herb teas with nettles, horsetail, alfalfa or birch leaves, but not in combination with the colchicine medicine. The teas are made not very strong in order for them to wash out the urinary tract well and wash the salts away from the body. Drink the tea 3 times a day, not hot, but pleasantly warm or lukewarm.
Decoction of parsley fern, soapwort and brackens is suitable for local and overall baths. After the bath, do not dry the body, only wrap it in a towel and lie down to relax for at least one hour. You can also make poultices to place on affected regions with herb decoctions.
You may also get rid of the excessive uric acid by drinking a glass of water with two teaspoons of celery oil or kidney-root.
You can also put some ointment on the aching joints for the night; you can make the ointment out of pork lard and oregano. Let the mixture rest for 24 hours in a warm place and then strain and let it solidify in the fridge.
Gout has been treated with cherries for hundreds of years. Prepare 250 g of cherries, whether they are fresh or compoted; they should keep your gout at bay. You can also use cherry juice or strawberry juice.