10 – 15% of men over 45 will get gout. For Maori and Pacific populations this increases to over 50%.
All about gout
Gout is a form of arthritis that causes excruciating pain in your joints (usually the big toe). Gout is caused when uric acid levels build up in your bloodstream, and crystals of uric acid form around the joint causing pain. Gout can form quickly, and you can develop symptoms in a day.
A bout of gout usually lasts between 3-10 days. Some people will only ever get gout once, whereas other people can get gout several times a year. Over time multiple gout attacks can damage the joint.
Gout is the second most common form of arthritis in New Zealand.
Initially, gout usually affects the joint in the big toe, but it can also affect surrounding areas and joints in the feet, ankles, knees or hands. The affected joint will become swollen, red, shiny, and be extremely painful. If you are sleeping when you get a gout attack, the pain will probably wake you up.
- Gout most commonly affects men over 40 but can happen much younger.
- Gout is caused when your body has a build up of uric acid. Uric acid is formed by our bodies when we digest certain foods and drinks. About 20% of getting high uric acid can be influenced by diet. Foods and drinks that may contribute to having a gout attack include some meats, seafood, alcohol, soft drinks and beer.
- Your genetics play a large role in developing gout. Maori and Pacific Island men are far more likely to get gout, particularly if a family member has had gout.
- As well as genetics, overweight people are also more susceptible to gout.
Gout can be difficult to diagnose because there are lots of reasons a joint may become swollen.
To test for gout your doctor might take a blood sample to check the uric acid level in your blood. If your uric acid levels are high, your doctor might also take a sample of fluid from your joint. Viewed under a microscope, they’ll look for small uric crystals that indicate gout.
Your doctor can prescribe pain relief and/or medication to limit the uric acid in your body. It is important to keep taking this medicine. You can help the pain by using cold packs and wearing a supportive shoe.
Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle and dietary changes you can make to help reduce your uric acid levels and cure the gout. This could include losing weight, drinking less alcohol – particularly beer, avoiding foods that trigger the gout attacks, limiting soft drinks and drinking more water.
Left untreated, gout can cause permanent damage to your joints, making it painful and stiff to move. It can also lead to kidney damage. Gout is linked to DIABETES and heart disease.
Selio Solomon is passionate about improving the way Pacific Island men think about what they eat and how much they exercise. His own experiences with gout taught him that lesson the hard way. He talked to us about how painful gout is and the real way to put it behind you for life.Read More