A classic misconception about gout is that it is a flare-up caused by eating rich food. It has been called the rich man’s disease and the disease of kings because once up on a time it would only be contracted by rich because they were the only ones who could afford meat and wine and other treats.
The word comes from the Latin “gutta” which means drop. In the middle ages, physicians believed that it was caused by the blood dropping toxins into the joints.
They were not too far off. Gout is caused by uric acid crystals building up in the blood stream. These crystals do get deposited in the joints, causing inflammation and acute pain. Usually there is joint pain in the feet and ankles but the acid in the body can affect any joint. The typical attack occurs in the joint at the base of the big toe but ankle joints and knees are also frequently affected.
The cavities of your joints are surrounded by synovial fluid. This is a thick fluid about the consistency of egg whites. The name itself comes from the Latin. Syn means together and ovial comes from ovum, which means egg. The task of this fluid to keep the joint bones lubricated.
The big question is, what causes the excess of uric acid in the blood stream? Studies have shown that some families are more prone to gout attacks. It also occurs more often in men than in women although post-menopausal women are also targets. It is also more likely to occur in people who drink alcohol. Diuretics (water pills) can wash away a lot of water from your system leaving behind a higher concentration of uric acid.
If you have already experienced a gout attack, you don’t need to have it described for you. It is unforgettable. However, in case you don’t know what the typical symptoms are, here is a list for you:
- Sudden throbbing pain that often start at night
- The joint feels warm and turns red.
- Even a sheet over the joint hurts because it is so tender
- Possibly a fever.
The first attack only lasts a few days but it will return in half the cases if it is the chronic version. If it returns, it usually lasts longer than the first attack. Chronic gouty arthritis will leave persistent joint damage and joint pain. Lumps can develop around your joints or even in other parts of your body. These are called tophi and they can leak a fluid that has a chalky appearance.
So can you just ignore the problem? No way. Take a look at this and see for yourself:
In summary, this is something that you need to take seriously. It never really goes away, even if you do not feel the pain. It is lurking in your system. Each time it returns, it does more damage. If it becomes a chronic problem, then it can deform your joints and cause endless pain. The underlying cause, the urates in your blood stream that were deposited in your synovial fluid remain there and, without treatment, you will never be free of the threat of sudden and excruciating gout pain.
Gout begins at the bottom of your body — your big toe — and moves up to your ankles, knees, hands, fingers and elbows. Unless, and this is the redeeming feature, unless you take steps to cure gout rather than endure gout.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that once an attack passes, you are home free. Those who believe it is caused by eating rich foods are on the mark. Uric acid build-up comes from an unhealthy diet, a diet high in protein and fat. Many sufferers are also overweight and their blood stream is teeming with disease-causing elements.
There is a cure for gout that is better than medication or any other treatment for gout pain. It is your diet. What you eat affects your health and if you change what you eat, you will never again feel the pulsating pain of a gouty joint. Treating your body well is better than any medicine. In particular, if you are overweight, then this is a major contributor to gout and you should be doing something about it!.
As a side note, crystals of uric acid can really wreak havoc on your system — it is the substance that crystallizes into lumps of uric acid known as kidney stones as well.
Remember – Gout can cause permanent damage.