If you or someone you know is experiencing gout, you have probably asked yourself whether gout will go away on its own. Having a solid understanding of what gout is and how it is caused can help you understand how to mitigate and manage it. Read below to learn more about the condition and gout treatment options available.
What is gout?
Gout is a form of arthritis that can cause sudden bouts of pain. Pain is usually felt in your big toe, but can also be felt in other toe joints, ankles, or knees. Gout is caused by a buildup of uric acid, which comes from the breakdown of purines. Purines occur naturally in your body but can also be found in foods such as red meat and seafood. After uric acid builds up to a certain level, it starts to form sharp crystals in your body. These crystals settle in joints and cause the intense flare-ups that characterize gout. A gout flare-up can last anywhere between a day and a week. However, people who chronically experience gout can have episodes of pain that last longer.
Who is commonly affected?
Gout largely affects men over the age of forty, but can affect anyone. Most women who develop it do so after menopause, once estrogen levels in their bodies have dropped. Gout is genetic and can be a result of other genetic health conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, as well. You are more likely to develop the condition if you eat foods that have a lot of purines in them, such as sardines, tuna, or scallops. Drinking large amounts of alcohol and consuming a high quantity of food that contains high fructose corn syrup may lead to increased risk. Conditions that lead to the body producing more uric acid, such as being overweight, can contribute to the likelihood of developing the condition. Certain medications can also trigger a flare-up, including high blood pressure medication.
Gout Treatment Options
Since gout is a form of arthritis, which is characterized by inflammation, it is usually treated with anti-inflammatory medication. In more severe cases, gout treatment may include steroids, although this can come with many side effects. During an attack, it is important to ice the affected area every 20 minutes and keep your leg or foot elevated. This can help reduce pain and inflammation. Gout can also be managed with a variety of lifestyle changes. Implementing a diet change to reduce red meat, processed food, and alcohol can be extremely effective in lowering uric acid levels. Additionally, incorporating fresh fruits and veggies, along with increasing daily water intake, can also be extremely beneficial. Foods with a high level of vitamin C, as well as fat-free dairy products, have also shown to be helpful to people who experience gout chronically.
While flare-ups may go away on their own, the condition does not. When left untreated, flare-ups can become more frequent and painful. Advanced Rheumatology of Houston is here to help you understand and manage many chronic conditions, including gout. To help us help you, please call us at (281) 766-7886.