Gout is caused by the formation of crystals in and around joints, resulting in swelling and severe pain. Treatment can relieve symptoms and prevent further outbreaks of the condition. It is more common among men than women and once diagnosed, gout is likely to recur if left untreated.
Symptoms of gout include severe pain, tenderness and feeling hot in one or more joints. This is often accompanied by swelling and the skin of the affected area becoming red and shiny. Symptoms usually last three to ten days, after which the pain should pass. Gout is caused by a build up of uric acid in the blood, resulting in sharp crystals forming around joints.
Patients with high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, kidney problems or relatives with the condition are more prone to developing gout. Certain foods, such as red meat, offal, seafood, red wine and alcohol may also increase the chance of a gout outbreak. Lifestyle and dietary changes are some of the most effective means of preventing gout.
Physicians can help reduce the symptoms of a gout flare-up and provide advice on how to minimize the chance it will reoccur. Ice packs may help alleviate painful symptoms, while prescription and over-the-counter medication can be used to lower uric acid levels and reduce the chance of future outbreaks. Drug classes often used to treat gout include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for the pain and inflammation, and anti-gout preparations such as Zyloprim (allopurinol).