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Joint pain can signal bout with the gout





If you're a male older than 40 or a female past menopause, you're already at increased risk. Add in a diet that is high in certain kinds of meats or shellfish, and you just upped the ante. Two or more alcoholic beverages a day? The odds keep on rising. And family history can push the chances of getting gout even higher.



Gout often starts out with an extremely painful, red, swollen joint. While it can show up in the knees, ankles, elbows, hands or wrists, gout usually prefers to target the big toe. Many times, the first pains strike at night and can be so intense that even the slightest touch can reduce a grown man (or woman) to tears.


The culprit is a build-up of uric acid in the body, which "is produced from the natural breakdown of your body's cells and from the foods you eat," says WebMD. Typically, the kidneys filter out uric acid and the body expels it in urine. When too much uric acid builds up, however, crystals can form in your body's joints, causing gout.


A variety of triggers can cause uric acid accumulation. Sometimes it's a food that is high in purines, a compound the body metabolizes as uric acid. Foods such as game meats, liver, kidneys, anchovies, scallops, mushrooms, dried beans, dried peas and asparagus are all high-purine foods, which increase uric acid levels in the bloodstream.


Other contributors can include: family history, inadequate kidney function, high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, psoriasis, certain medications, being overweight, exposure to lead or consuming beer or wine.


For those who have had gout before, a recent Boston University School of Medicine study found heat and humidity may well increase chances for a recurrence of gout, says the American College of Rheumatology. "Climatic factors such as heat and humidity that lead to dehydration can signal a future attack for gout sufferers," according to an ACR press release. "The attacks ... can also generate fever, chills, a general feeling of malaise and rapid heartbeat. Depleting the body of fluids through perspiration has been long considered a potential trigger for recurrent gout attacks."


With nearly 3 million Americans suffering gout attacks every year, the medical community has a good grasp on causes, symptoms and treatments. Typically, gout is treated with either non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids. Once treatment is administered, pain and symptoms usually subside within just a few days.





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