Healthy Tahoe: Talking about gout during men’s health month
When your body builds up unhealthy levels of uric acid — a natural byproduct of your body’s cells — it can lead to a type of arthritis called gout. Gout is characterized by inflamed, painful joints due to the formation of crystal deposits at the joints.
Gout is sometimes known as the disease of kings because it was associated with overindulgence of rich foods and wine. Though, anyone can get gout. Gout affects more men than women and is often associated with obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure), hyperlipidemia (high levels of lipids in the blood), and diabetes.
Excess uric acid in the body can lead to monosodium urate crystal deposits in the joints, or gout. The excess of uric acid may be caused by an increase in production by the body, under-elimination of the uric acid by the kidneys, or increased intake of certain foods that metabolize into uric acid in the body.
Foods that are high in purines (the component of the food that metabolizes into uric acid) include certain meats, such as game meats, kidney, and liver; seafood, such as anchovies, herring, scallops, sardines, and mackerel; dried beans, and dried peas. Alcoholic beverages and sugary drinks high in fructose may also increase levels of uric acid in the body.
Gout attacks may be triggered by consumption of alcohol and protein-rich foods, fatigue, emotional stress, minor surgery, and illness.
Though each individual may experience symptoms differently, gout is characterized by sudden, recurrent pain in one or more joints (most often the joint in the big toe). The joint may feel warm to the touch and become red or purplish, with tight, shiny skin over the joint. The general feeling of illness can occur. Severe, chronic gout may lead to deformity of the joints.
Specific diagnosis and treatment for gout will be determined by your care provider based on your age, overall health, and medical history, along with the extent of the condition. Treatment may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications to relieve pain and inflammation, or medications to lower the uric acid level in the body. Lifestyle modifications such as increasing fluid intake while avoiding alcoholic beverages and reducing the intake of protein-rich foods can also be an effective treatment. In some cases, surgery may be required.
The symptoms of gout can vary and may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your care provider for a diagnosis and consider lifestyle modifications that reduce your risk for gout.
Dr. Tyler Peterson, is a Family Medicine Physician with Barton Family Medicine. Dr. Peterson will host a free Wellness Webinar, “Gout Prevention and Treatment Options” at 5 p.m. Thursday, June 9. Register in advance, or view previously recorded webinars at BartonHealth.org/Lecture.
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