Gout: Understanding a Painful and Common Condition

Published 08/29 2013 07:54PM

Updated 08/29 2013 08:05PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Gout is the acute onset of severe and excruciating joint pain. It's a syndrome characterized by high urate levels and deposition of urate crystals in joints causing painful attacks of arthritis.

"It was excruciatingly painful in my right great toe," says John Beelew.

This disease most commonly affects the first toe, however any joint can be affected.

It's usually associated with swelling, warmth redness of the involved joint, and it's usually due to underexcretion of the urate in 90 percent of the cases and over production in the other 10 percent, but there is an overlap in both.

"I had a sense of what was going on because the toe had inflamed and it's so painful you can't even stand the sheets of the bed to touch it," adds Beelew. "I would sleep with my foot off the edge of the mattress."

Other factors are related to your diet -- for example, eating too much red meat, seafood, or drinking too much alcohol, especially beer can spike urate levels.

Over a course of a week or so of eating a lot of shellfish, shrimp and drinking some beer precipitated this onset of gout.

Gout can develop spontaneously, so when inflammation and joint pain occur, it is very important to see your doctor because along with the pain, gout can cause cartilage loss and bone erosion.

Some ways to reduce your risk of gout are to reduce the intake of high purine foods, reduce the alcohol intake especially beer, and also reduce the consumption of seafood and meats.

But on the other hand, consuming dairy products can lower the risk of gout attack.

Remember, gout can be very painful and debilitating, so appropriate treatment can suppress the attacks and prevent long term irreversible damage.

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