Is it Gout?
Not a polite disease
Gout isn't a very polite disease. It tends to sucker-punch you in the
middle of the night with no prior warning. Sneaky it is and painful, too. It
hurts like a son of a gun. They (the doctors) call sudden, intense pain
'acute'. Hah! You think to yourself. There's nothing cute about gouty
Gout gets you by the toe
Most often, gout gets you by the toe: the big toe, to be exact. But it
doesn't have to start there. Any place you've got joints (wrists, hands, knees,
ankles, feet) is fair play as far as gout is concerned, though you probably
don't find it fair at all. You've got intense joint pain, and it's not going
away any time soon. You waited awhile before calling the doctor, because you
don't want to be a baby, but it's outlasting your patience.
In fact, if left untreated, gout pain lasts for an average of 10 days. During
the attack the joint is swollen, red, and tender. The pain ends in a gradual
manner over a period of a week or two and then it's gone. The affected joint
looks and feels completely normal.
Once the discomfort is over, you're left relieved but bewildered,
wondering how that happened, and hoping it won't happen again. Maybe if you
learn something about the disease, you'll get some clues about how to prevent
another attack. The first thing you discover if that gout is what happens when
urate crystals form around the affected joint. It's the crystals that are the
culprits responsible for the pain and inflammation of a gout attack. Your body
forms these crystals when uric acid builds up in your bloodstream.
That radical idea has you scratching your head. Isn't uric acid
something that is found in urine? Well, on a good day, in fact, it is. Healthy
kidneys act as a filter for the blood, removing things like excess uric acid
from your blood. However, with gout, the body is either making too much uric
acid for the kidneys to cope with, or your kidneys aren't functioning as they
should, meaning that not enough uric acid is excreted from your system.
Your body makes uric acid as it breaks down substances called purines
that are found throughout the body, as well as in certain foods such as
mushrooms, asparagus, herring, anchovies, and organ meats. If not excreted,
uric acid forms sharp, needle-like crystals around your joints.