Buttered shrimp, juicy lechon, cold alcoholic beverages — foodies will usually dive into these without second thoughts, especially during special occasions where these tend to be free-flowing.
But what if after that fact, one starts feeling excruciating joint pain?
Unfortunately, they might be dealing with one of the consequences of gorging on this scrumptious fare: gout.
What is Gouty Arthritis?
Gout is a complex form of inflammatory arthritis which commonly affects men. Its cause: a build-up of uric acid in the blood.
This build-up typically crystallizes in a joint — often, in the big toe which is said to be the coolest part of the body due to being the furthest from the heart, since uric acid is temperature sensitive. It causes agonizing pain, swelling, and tenderness in the affected joint.
Individuals diagnosed with gout commonly have one of the following comorbidities: kidney dysfunction, obesity, high cholesterol and triglycerides, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
Diagnosing Gouty Arthritis
Gout can get out of control if not treated immediately. The bigger the build-up of uric acid in the body, the slower the body recovers. Thus, it is vital to get diagnosed early to start treatment and prevent long-term damage.
While it is easy to diagnose due to its obvious indication — debilitating joint pain, commonly around the big toe — specific tests can help make a proper diagnosis and prevent confusion with other types of arthritis. These include:
- Uric Acid Blood Test
- X-ray of the painful joints
- Physical exam where the doctor will look to identify tophi or hard yellow collections of uric acid crystals under the skin
- Extraction of synovial fluid from affected joints
4 Painful Facts About Gout
1. Gout is a genetic disease.
About 20% of gout patients have relatives with the same condition, and a person’s chance of developing this disease increases if it is a first-degree relative.
The usual genetic defect found in people suffering from gout has something to do with the kidneys, with 90% of these patients having kidneys that can no longer filter out uric acid through urination. Relatively, 10% make too much uric acid in their bodies.
But while gouty arthritis is a genetic condition, certain lifestyles and diets can increase a person’s risk of developing it.
2. 9 out of 10 people suffering from gout are men over 40.
The reason why men are more prone to gout than women: the lack of estrogen.
Estrogen is a female hormone responsible for supporting kidney function, which is helpful because kidneys filter uric acid in the body.
This does not mean that women are totally safe against gout, though. Because as their estrogen levels drop as they age, especially during menopausal stage, they become predisposed to gout and other problems that come with it.
3. Abstaining from alcohol does not steer a person clear of gout.
With alcohol being a known source of purines or which generates uric acid in the body, regular drinkers are at an increased risk of developing gout.
However, people who do not consume alcoholic beverages may still develop this condition from other unhealthy habits such as indulging in sugary drinks and uric acid-rich food like shrimp, processed food, and red meat.
4. Certain medications may complicate this disease.
Although medications are not meant to do more harm than good to the body, some medicines can worsen gout. The most common one is diuretics or water pills. They prevent kidneys from excreting the extra uric acid in the body, which then leads to the build-up of it.
Other drugs that exacerbate gout include nicotinic acid, levodopa, ciclosporin, tacrolimus, low doses of aspirin, and testosterone.
Kick the Pain Away
Gouty arthritis does not have a magic pill for a cure, nor does it have an easy way of managing it. Some people, even with their best efforts, are inclined to develop it due to genetics. But it makes a significant difference to practice eating healthy and avoiding food that can trigger painful attacks.
Routine tests and checkups can also help, not just with preventing or managing gouty arthritis but for overall health. Makati Medical Center offers world-class healthcare services and facilities that prioritize its patients’ well-being. Book an appointment with MakatiMed’s trusted medical professionals to achieve your health goals.