GOUT for the holidays

Have you been awaken during the middle of the night by a hot extremely painful feeling in your big toe or ankle?


Gout Ankle

Gout (gouty arthritis) is a condition caused by a buildup of uric acid called hyperuricemia.  The uric acid forms crystals that collect in the joints, bringing on a gout attack.  A single big toe joint is commonly the affected area, possibly because it is subject to so much pressure in walking.  Historically, it has been referred to as “the king of diseases and the disease of kings” or “rich man’s disease”.  The first documentation of the disease is from Egypt in 2,600 BC in a description of arthritis of the big toe.

Gout attacks happen without warning causing joint swelling, tenderness, redness, heat and pain.  Men are much more likely to be afflicted than women but women can also be affected after menopause.  Gout is strongly associated with obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia and diabetes.  Because of genetic factors, gout tends to run in some families. Gout rarely affects children.  It can go away (even without treatment) after 3 to 10 days.

During the holiday season, rich foods and alcohol are commonly served at Christmas and New Year’s parties.  Alcohol such as beer and red wine should be avoided by people prone to gout attacks.  In addition, diets that contain lots of red meat, rich sauces, and shellfish are associated with gout.  These include processed meat, organ meats, and shellfish such as shrimp, lobster and scallops.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that once a gout attack passes, you are home free.  Approximately 60 percent of patients suffering from gout will experience a second attack within one year and 78 percent of patients will have another attack within the next two years.
The good news is that gouty arthritis is manageable.  The initial aim of treatment is to settle the symptoms of an acute attack.  Your doctor will likely order a blood test to check your uric acid level.  X-ray’s may be taken to check for tophi or changes in the bones.  Tophi are large deposits of uric acid crystals that form in the joints after many gout attacks.  A cortisone injection may be given for the inflammation. Your doctor may start you on anti-inflammatory medicines as well as a daily long-term control medication to reduce levels of uric acid.

Dr. Olga Garcia Luepschen and the Gentle Foot Care Center are located 2 Ryant Blvd (on US27) can be reached 314-9255(walk).  Check us out at www.gentlefootcarecenter.com


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