What is Gout & What causes it? How Does Gout Affect the Body?

Gout is a complex form of arthritis that is caused by the body’s inability to properly metabolize uric acid.  It causes sudden attacks of severe pain.  Gout can affect many joints, including the ankles, knees, elbows, and fingers, but the most common location of pain is the feet.  In particular, the big toe is often affected.

People who have gout have an unusually high level of uric acid in their bodies.  At some point, the uric acid builds up and causes an attack or flare up of gout.  Gout can be acute or chronic.  An acute attack of gout usually involves just one joint.  Chronic gout involves multiple episodes and can involve several joints.

Attacks of gout tend to be quite sudden and severe; a person might even be awakened in the middle of the night with severe pain in the big toe.  Sufferers describe it as feeling like the big toe is on fire.  They may even be unable to tolerate the weight of the bed sheets resting on the toe.

How Does Gout Affect the Body?

Gout has several effects on the body.  Primarily, it causes severe pain the affected joint(s).  The joint may be hot, red, swollen, and stiff.  The attack usually resolves within three to ten days.  The patient may not have another gout attack for months or years.

Gout can also cause tophi, which are deposits of uric acid under the skin.  The tophi appear as lumps under the skin.  People who suffer from gout are also prone to developing kidney stones because crystals of uric acid form in the kidneys.

What Causes Gout?

As mentioned previously, gout is the result of the body’s inability to properly metabolize uric acid.  There are substances called purines in the tissues of our bodies.  Purines naturally occur in our bodies, and we take in more purines when we consume things like liver, anchovies, and dried beans.

When purines break down in our bodies, uric acid is produced.  In a healthy person, the uric acid in the body dissolves in the blood, passes through the kidneys, and leaves the body in the urine.  However, under certain conditions, the level of uric acid builds up in the blood.

This can occur for several reasons – the body is making too much uric acid, or the kidneys are not removing enough uric acid, or a person is simply consuming too many foods rich in purine.  If a high level of uric acid remains in the bloodstream, uric acid crystals can develop, causing gout.

There are several factors that increase your risk for developing gout, including the following:

  • You are male;
  • You are overweight;
  • You have family members who have gout;
  • You drink excessive alcohol;
  • You consume a diet high in purines;
  • You have undergone an organ transplant;
  • You take certain medications or vitamins.

If you have gout, your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication or corticosteroids to treat the pain of a gout attack.  If you have had multiple attacks, your doctor may prescribe a daily medication that you can take to help prevent attacks from occurring.

You can cope with the pain in your feet caused by gout by choosing supportive, comfortable footwear.  Look for shoes that are sufficiently wide and have plenty of room in the toe box so that the big toe is not pinched.

If you have gout, you should visit Foot Solutions UK.  We can help you to find shoes that are comfortable and supportive and minimize the pain that you experience as a result of your gout condition.  Visit Foot Solutions UK for more information today.