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Understanding Gout, the causes of gout, treatment  and symptoms.

Gout is a form of arthritis that results from a build-up of uric acid crystals in the joint. It is the most common inflammatory arthritis in men and most times causes an impaired quality of life.

According to the Global Burden of Diseases Study 2016, the global prevalence of gout was estimated at about 33.97 million with an incidence of 6.43 million.

Gout is often characterized by an abrupt attack of pain, swelling, redness and tenderness in the joints, usually the joint at the base of the big toe. Gout can affect anyone and the sudden attacks of pain that comes with it can create a feeling of the foot being on fire.

Risk factors for Gout

Having high levels of uric acid in the body has been shown to be the primary factor that increases the likelihood of gout. Factors that could increase the level of uric acid in the body include:

  • Age and sex: Men are generally affected more than women. Commonly affected age group is between 30 to 50 years.  
  • Obesity: Being overweight not only puts one at risk of gout but also puts the kidney to stress. The obese body usually would create more uric acid, thus, increasing the length of time it normally would take the kidneys to eliminate uric acid.
  • Diet: Unhealthy eating habits and diets rich in meat, sea foods and sweetened food/drinks increase the level of uric acid in the body.
  • Medical Conditions: Certain cardiovascular diseases increase the risk of gout.  Gout in itself is also known to be a causative factor for cardiovascular disease.
  • Family history: A family with history of gout increases the risk of other members of the family having gout.
  • Certain medications: The use of certain types of medications such as thiazide diuretics to treat medical conditions like hypertension also increases uric acid levels.

Preventing Gout

Thankfully gouts can be prevented. The following are few tips to help protect against gout attacks: 

  1.  Eat meat and poultry food in moderation: Limit the amount of meat you eat and also be selective/mindful of the types you consume.
  2. Maintain healthy body weight: Losing weight can help reduce level of uric acids present in the body. However, the cause of losing weight should be done the healthy way. Avoid starving yourself or engaging in rapid weight loss programs as doing so may temporarily raise uric acid levels.
  3. Choose low fat dairy products: As compared against high fat diary products, low fat dairy products have protective effect against gout and are also a good source of protein.  
  4. Drink plenty of fluids: You can never go wrong drinking lots of water. Stay hydrated and always drink plenty water. Also, consciously limit the intake of sweetened drinks/beverages. 
  5. Avoid Alcohol:  Findings from new researches suggests that beer could also increase the symptoms of gout particularly in men.