What is Gout?

Gout is a type of arthritis that causes sudden, severe pain in a joint. The pain usually lasts for 5 to 7 days and then goes away. If it is not treated it can damage the joints. Gout is most often caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood. This can be caused by alcohol, some foods or medications. It can also be a result of certain medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease or heart disease. Gout can also be triggered by an injury or infection. Usually a joint is affected, but sometimes more than one joint. The most common site of an attack is the big toe, but it can affect the ankles, knees, wrists, hands or elbows.

Symptoms include intense pain, warmth, swelling and redness of the skin. The joint will feel stiff and have limited movement. It may be so painful that even a bed sheet touching the affected toe can cause serious pain. The onset of the pain is fast and generally happens at night.

A gout attack is usually very intense and can be frightening, especially at first. If the attack is not treated it can continue to increase in severity over time, causing permanent damage to joints. Typical attacks are very short, but they can be repeated frequently over the years.

Symptoms of Gout include pain, tenderness, warmth and swelling. Uric acid crystals form in the fluid that lubricates and protects your joints. When the levels of uric acid get too high, they can start to irritate and inflame your joints, resulting in an attack.

There are many ways to treat gout, both during an attack and in order to prevent future attacks. Your GP can prescribe painkillers to help ease the pain and inflammation during an attack. They will usually ask questions about your lifestyle and diet. You may be referred to a specialist (rheumatologist) for further tests and treatments. They will be able to check your blood levels and order x-rays or scans of the joints involved. They can use a thin needle to drain a sample of the fluid from inside the joint.

Diet and exercise are important for controlling gout, both to avoid attacks and to prevent future attacks. You should cut out foods that are high in fat, sugar and purines. These include shellfish, gravies, red meat and organ meats such as liver. Vegetables that are low in fat such as spinach and mushrooms and low-fat dairy foods can help reduce uric acid levels.

Drinking plenty of water is important to help maintain normal kidney function and lower uric acid levels. You should also reduce your alcohol intake and avoid taking some medicines, including aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, diuretics and narcotics. Getting enough sleep and stress reduction can also help. If you are having trouble sleeping, try a warm bath before bed. It is also a good idea to elevate the affected joint at night.

Should you wish to discuss your condition with an experienced Australian trained Doctor or expert in this area. Please book in for an online and Telehealth consultation. Phenix Health is always available when you need us 24/7. Contact bookings@phenixhealth.com.au