Gout is a complex condition that can occur in both women and men. However, men are more at risk of suffering from gout than women, women being more exposed to this risk after menopause.
Gout is a type of microcrystalline arthritis that occurs as a result of crystallisation of uric acid in the tissues, including joints, causing inflammation and local pain.
This condition has seen an increase in prevalence and incidence globally in recent decades. Also, the disease is accompanied by a lot of comorbidities such as kidney failure, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and heart failure.
Gout – Causes
Risk factors are:
- Alcohol consumption (especially beer because it has an increased content of guanosine, the substance which is subsequently metabolised in uric acid). Alcohol consumption is the most common risk factor for gout, increasing the level of uric acid.
- Health status, because some diseases may predispose to gout. Thus, conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, high levels of fat and cholesterol in the blood, hyperlipidemia, and arteriosclerosis may be some of the gout risk factors.
- Administration of certain medicines. Using certain diuretics, prescribed to treat hypertension, can lead to increased uric acid levels in the body and, implicitly, to gout.
- Medical history of the family. Thus, if a family member suffered or is suffering from gout, there is a predisposition to this condition.
- Age and sex. Gout usually occurs in men because women have a lower uric acid level than men. However, after the menopause, uric acid levels begin to increase in women. Men are prone to suffer from gout between the ages of 40 and 50, while women suffer from gout after menopause.
The main cause is:
- Hyperuricemia is the main cause of gout. It can develop in multiple contexts, including nutrition, genetic predisposition, decreased uric acid excretion (90% of gout cases), or overproduction of uric acid (<10% of cases). In other words, gout occurs in situations where uric acid crystals accumulate around the wrist, causing inflammation and increased pain. Also, uric acid crystals are formed when there is an increased level of uric acid in the blood. It should be noted that not all patients with hyperuricemia will develop gout.
Gout – Symptoms
Symptoms of gout are acute, abrupt, most often occurring at night. Thus, at night, the patient feels their feet swollen and extremely sensitive to pain, and the touches, however lightly, are painful.
These are signs of illness or a form of gout arthritis, characterized by strong and sudden pain that occurs at the joints, sometimes accompanied by flushing.
Typically, the gout affects the joint from the toe, but can also occur in the ankle, hands, and wrists. Untreated, pain may persist for ten days, disappearing later.
Gout – Treatment
The treatment for gout has as its central objective the reduction of symptoms, by using anti-inflammatory medication and pain killers.
Subsequently, it is also really important to prevent the disease progression by reducing the uric acid deposition in the kidney collector system.