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What is gout? 

Gout is a common and complex form of inflammatory arthritis that is very painful and can affect anyone. It is easily identifiable through its sudden, severe attacks of pain typically affecting one joint at a time (often beginning in your big toe or a lower limb). Flareups of gout usually cause pain and swelling in your joints that last a week or two and then resolve. An attack of gout can cause the affected joint to feel hot to the touch, swollen, and very tender. Repeated flareups of gout can cause gouty arthritis, which is a worsening form of arthritis.  

What causes gout? 

Typically, gout develops in middle age. Gout is caused by hyperuricemia, a condition where there is an excess amount of uric acid in the body. What is uric acid? Your body makes uric acid from the breakdown of purines. Purines are found in your body and the foods that you eat. However, when there is excess uric acid in your body, monosodium urate (uric acid crystals) can build up in your joints, fluids, and tissues with your body. People with hyperuricemia do not always develop gout. Hyperuricemia will not need treatment if gout is not developed. There are factors that increase your chance of developing gout.  

These factors include but are not limited to:  

  • Commonly gout is developed in males 
  • Being obese increases your chances for developing gout 
  • Certain health conditions an increase your risk factor. Conditions such congestive heart failure, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, insulin resistance, poor kidney function) 
  • Some medications (such as diuretics, low-dose aspirin, and large amounts of niacin, and others) 
  • Excess alcohol consumption 
  • A purine high diet 
    • Foods containing purines include: red meat, organ meat, and certain seafoods, such as anchovies, sardines, mussels, scallops, trout, and tuna. 
  • High intake of fructose (found in foods and drinks) 
  • Having a family history of gout 
  • Increasing in age 

What are symptoms of gout? 

The most common symptom is an affected joint. Commonly begins in the big toe. Other joints that are commonly affected are the lesser toe joints, the ankle, and the knee.  

Symptoms in the affected joint include: 

  • Joint pain in the affected area 
  • Swelling of joint 
  • Redness of joint  
  • And heat from the joint 

When should I see my provider?

If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of gout, call or book an appointment with your provider 

How can I improve my quality of life? 

Gout can affect how you operate in your daily living. Thankfully, there are many strategies to managing your gout symptoms.  

How can I improve my quality of life? 

The CDC’s Arthritis Program recommends using their five step self-management for managing gout. These steps include:  

  • Learn self-management skills: Take a self-management education class that helps people with arthritis and other chronic conditions understand how arthritis affects your life and increase your confidence in managing your symptoms.  Learn more about this program here.  
  • Get physically active: CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. Activity can include walking, swimming, or biking. Regular physical activity can reduce your risk of developing other serious, chronic conditions such as heart failure, stroke, and diabetes. Learn more about exercising with arthritis here.  
  • Talk with your provider: Make sure you are in regular communication with your provider regarding your symptoms and keeping up with your regular appointments to track your treatment plan.  
    • Lose weight: If you are overweight or obese, losing weight can decrease the pressure on your joints. Reach and maintaining a healthy weight can relieve pain, improve function, and slow the progression of arthritis.   
    • Protect your joints: When you exercise, choose activities that are easy on your joints like walking, bicycling, and swimming. Discover more low-impact exercises here.  

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