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Gout: How Do I Know I Have It?

Gout occurs more frequently in men older than forty, and in menopausal women. Episodes of gout usually occur at night, and will be accompanied by severe pain and swelling of the joint, within twelve to twenty-four hours. This episode can last up to five to ten days. The exact cause of Gout is unknown, but many doctors and scientists have speculated that it may be linked to a genetic defect in the metabolism leading to excess production and retention of uric acid, kidney inflammation that prevents the elimination of normal uric acid, environmental factors such as obesity, a rich diet purine or alcohol abuse, blood cell disease, certain cancers, or the use of water pills.

Episodes of gout are usually triggered by excessive use of alcohol, surgery, sudden or severe illness, joint injury, chemotherapy, eating too much wrong foods, or surgery.

There are usually four stages associated with Gout: Asymptomatic Levels, Acute Levels, Intercritical Levels and Chronic Levels. Asymptomatic levels are marked by an increase in the rate of veins in the blood, but no symptoms are currently present. Acute stage is the stage where symptoms begin to appear, in the form of sudden attacks of joint pain, swelling, and appearance of dust or bruises. Symptoms usually last between five and ten days. Intercritical stages are characterized by symptom-free intervals that are affected by Gout episodes. It takes most people about six months to two years before they have another episode of gout, but some are symptom free for ten years. Chronic stages are characterized by persistent painful joints that form large veins in the cartilage, joint stiffness and limited movement of the joints.

Doctors diagnose Gout based on the symptoms presented, as well as a blood test that shows high levels of uric acid that should not be, and discoveries of gout crystals growing in the joint fluid. There is damage to cartilage and bone to x-rays of people with chronic gout.

About 75% of the first attack occurs in the big toe, but other joints including the ankle, heel, knee, instep, elbows, fingers and spine can also be affected.



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