Gout is a painful and potentially disabling form of arthritis that has been recognized since ancient times. Gout is sometimes referred to as the “disease of kings” because it long has been associated incorrectly with the kind of overindulgence in food and wine only the rich and powerful could afford. In fact, anyone can be affected, and the risk factors are varied. Fortunately, it is possible to treat gout and reduce its agonizing attacks by avoiding food triggers and taking advantage of medication options.
Risk Factors for Gout
This condition and its complications occur more often in men, women after menopause, and people with kidney disease. Gout is strongly associated with obesity, hypertension (high BP), hyperlipidemia (high blood cholesterol) and diabetes. Because of genetic factors, gout tends to run in some families.
Causes of Gout
Gout occurs when excess uric acid (a normal waste product) accumulates in the body, and needle‐like crystals deposit in the joints. This may happen because either uric acid production increases or, more often, the kidneys are unable to remove uric acid from the body adequately. Certain foods, such as shellfish and alcohol, may increase uric acid levels and lead to gout attacks.
Some medications also can increase uric acid levels. Examples of such medications include moderate dose aspirin, diuretics such as hydrochlorothiazide (Esidrix, Hydro‐D), and immunosuppressants used in organ transplantation such as cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) and tacrolimus (Prograf). With time, increased uric acid levels in the blood may lead to deposits of monosodium urate crystals in and around the joints. These crystals can attract white blood cells, leading to severe, painful gout attacks. Uric acid also can deposit in the urinary tract, causing kidney stones.
Symptoms of Gout
Initial symptoms of got usually consist of intense episodes of painful swelling in single joints, most often in the feet (especially the big toe).
Diagnosis of Gout
While your doctor may “suspect” gout on the basis of your symptoms and physical examination, a definite diagnosis depends on finding the characteristic crystals. The physician will use a needle to extract fluid from an affected joint and examine that fluid under a microscope to determine whether monosodium urate crystals are present. Crystals also can be found in deposits under the skin (called tophi) that occur in advanced gout. Uric acid levels in the blood are important to measure but can be misleading, as uric acid levels often are elevated in people who do not have gout.
Treatment of Gout
Medical drugs: One treatment for acute gout is colchicine, which can be effective only if given early in the attack. However, colchicine can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and other side effects. Non‐steroidal anti‐inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are aspirin‐like medications that can decrease inflammation as well as pain in joints and other tissues. However, there is no evidence that any one NSAID is better than others. These medications may cause stomach irritation, ulcers, or diarrhea.
Herbal supplements: An herbal dietary supplement known as Provailen has been specifically blended after intensive research to treat and cure almost all kinds of arthritis. The herbs contained in Provailen are all natural and do not have side effects like commonly experienced from taking prescriptions medication. The best part about Provailen is that, unlike western treatments, Provailen focuses not only treating disease or symptoms but also supporting the body’s own healing mechanisms.