What is gout and who gets it?
“Gout is a condition that is much lampooned, bringing to mind images of Henry VIII and other similarly well-fed gentlemen! For sufferers however it is no laughing matter, as an attack of gout is excruciatingly painful and can result in permanent joint damage and disability if left untreated.
“Gout is an inflammatory arthritic condition and is the only curable type, but sadly is commonly undertreated or not taken seriously. It’s all to do with how the body metabolises uric acid – usually an excess of the substance is got rid of naturally, but in some people it is deposited in needle-like crystals in the joints.
“According to statistics on NHS.uk, one in 70 adults is thought to be affected. While it is true that the typical gout sufferer is middle-aged and male, this is not always the case and women, especially after the menopause, are prone to it too.”
What are the symptoms of gout?
“Symptoms start with pain and swelling in the joint – usually the big toe, but some people get it their ankles, knees, elbows, fingers and wrists. The joint reddens, gets hot and extremely painful, often unbearable to touch. Sometimes the skin becomes shiny and starts to peel. You may have a temperature and feel very tired.”
How can I avoid it?
“Whether you have gout or not you should aim to eat a balanced diet and try to maintain a healthy weight. While you don’t need to be completely teetotal, bear in mind that alcohol is not a great friend of gout, as it stimulates the production of uric acid. The worst offender is beer as it contains purine-rich yeasts, so best to have a glass of wine instead. If you opt for soft drinks, make sure these do not contain high fructose corn syrup.
“If you suffer frequent attacks of gout, do consult your GP as it is a condition that can be cured with the correct medication and lifestyle changes. Have a happy and healthy Christmas!”
Dr Kelsey Jordan specialises in the treatment of rheumatic disorders including rheumatoid arthritis and gout and is a trustee of the UK Gout Society. Dr Jordan has regular clinics at the Spire Montefiore Hospital in Hove.
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The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional.