- Intensely painful, swelling joints (most often in the big toe or other part of the foot) and/or bouts of arthritis that come and go may indicate gout.
- Finding the characteristic crystals in the fluid of joints allows health care providers to correctly diagnose gout.
- Gout treatments exist, but therapy should be tailored for each person. Treatment choices depend on kidney function, other health problems, personal preferences and other factors.
- Patients may need medications to lower their elevated blood uric acid levels that predispose to gout. The goal is a uric acid level less than 6 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
- There are two types of medicine for gout. For control of acute attacks of joint pain, there are NSAIDs, colchicine and corticosteroids. After gout flares have resolved, there are medications that can lower the level of uric acid over time in order to prevent or lessen attacks.
- Lifestyle changes such as controlling weight, limiting alcohol intake and limiting meals with meats and fish rich in purines also can help control gout.
Gout is a painful and potentially disabling form of arthritis that has been around since ancient times. It is sometimes referred to as the “disease of kings,” because people long have incorrectly linked it to the kind of overindulgence in food and wine only the rich and powerful could afford. In fact, gout can affect anyone, and its risk factors vary.
The first symptoms usually are intense episodes of painful swelling in single joints, most often in the feet, especially the big toe. The swollen site may be red and warm. Fifty percent of first episodes occur in the big toe, but any joint can be involved. Fortunately, it is possible to treat gout and reduce its very painful attacks by avoiding food and medication triggers and by taking medicines that can help. However, diagnosing gout can be hard, and treatment plans often must be tailored for each person.
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