A change in lifestyle can help deal with painful gout
GOUT was traditionally known as a 'rich man's disease' or the 'disease of kings' though it has become much more common in recent decades.
Gout is a type of arthritis, though it is very different to rheumatoid or osteoarthritis.
Gout is one of the most common types of arthritis to affect men. Women may also suffer from gout, though men are three to four times more likely to develop it.
Attacks of gout cause severe pain and swelling in one or more joints. The big toe is the most common joint to be affected, making walking very painful, even the weight of bed sheets can cause pain.
Gout is caused by a build up of a chemical called uric acid in the body. Normally uric acid is harmless in the body, but when levels are increased tiny uric acid crystals build up in the joints. This irritates the tissues causing pain and inflammation.
A build up of uric acid in the blood can be caused by a variety of factors. Drinking too much alcohol, particularly beer, or eating too much of certain foods e.g. red meat or sea food may be factors.
A diet lacking in vitamin C may also be a cause.
Some medication may cause an increase in uric acid levels and this may also be found in people with certain illnesses e.g. severe psoriasis.
Treatment of gout involves relieving the pain of attacks and trying to prevent further attacks. This is done though lifestyle changes and medication. Overtime people may reduce their uric acid levels enough so they no longer experience symptoms.
A short course of anti-inflammatory e.g. ibuprofen is often used to relieve the pain of an attack, usually only needed for a few days.
Allopurinol is the most common drug used to prevent gout attacks. It takes 2-3 months to reach full effect and it must be taken every day.
Lifestyle changes are also important aspect of the treatment of gout. Weight loss is advised if the person is overweight, and drinking two litres of water a day is recommended. A healthy balanced diet should be followed.
If you have gout or are worried that you might always feel free to ask your pharmacist any questions that you may have or consult with your doctor.