A complex and painful form of arthritis, Gout is caused by the existence of excess uric acid in the blood. When over-production of uric acid takes places, all of is does not get excreted from the body through the function of the kidneys. Instead, it remains in the blood stream, causing raised levels of uric acid – a condition termed hyperuricaemia.
When hyperuricaemia becomes rampant, it causes the formation of uric crystals in the joint areas, often starting with the big toe. However, not everyone with high levels of uric acid become victims of gout. It is more commonly evidenced in men and women post their menopausal phase.
Gout is associated with a number of risk factors which may predispose a person to its contraction. These include genetics, obesity, high alcohol consumption, high intake of purine-rich proteins, certain medications, joint injuries and kidney diseases.
Typically, gout manifests itself as sudden, painful attacks that may take up to week to subside without medication. Though the attacks may recur, there is often a long gap of several months before a second attack. It is thus important for one to be cognizant of the following symptoms of gout – this allows for speedy and accurate diagnosis which can then perpetuate long-term treatment.
1. Joint Pain
The most common symptom of gout is intense pain in the joint areas. In many cases, the first attack occurs with sharp aches in the big toe. The pain could also occur in the feet, ankles, hands, wrists or knees. The attack often occurs in the middle of the night, with the pain lasting for anywhere between four to twelve hours. Once the pain subsides, there is chance of recurrence, though hardly ever before a few months. With time, if the condition intensifies, these attacks become more frequent and the pain much harsher. In fact, the aches may begin to occur simultaneously in more than one joint as well.