What is gout? Gout is actually considered an arthritic condition that affects the joints. It occurs when your body has an excess or uric acid, and this acid produces crystals that are deposited in the joints. Often when someone is having a gout attack, the crystal deposits in a certain joint, very often the big toe joint in the foot, are causing redness, warmth, swelling, and an overwhelming amount of pain. But how do you know if you are susceptible to getting gout? There are several risk factors that should be kep in mind:
Age- Gout attacks usually happen in people over the age of 45. It can happen in people in their 30's and younger, however it seems that as you age, your kidney function may not be as efficient and the kidneys are unable to process and get rid of uric acid. This uric acid buildup in the blood causes gout attacks. Also keep in mind as we age, there are more medications that may also increase the incidence of a gout attack such as diuretics.
Diet- Red meat is the culprit here! When red meat or sweet breads (liver, kidney, etc.) are metabolized in your body, may cause an excess of uric acid as well. (It's also important to know that red meat has been linked to higher risk of developing Diabetes!)
Gender- Women, you are lucky here. Gout affects more men than women every year. Estrogen tends to protect women from gout, however as women age, their risk increases as well.
Alcohol use- Research has shown that beer causes more gout attacks than wine does. In order to keep your risk down, it is safest to abstain from alcohol.
If you do get diagnosed with gout, it is important to follow your PCP's directions as there are different medications that can prevent a gout attack. These medications may either allow your body to increase uric acid excretion through the kidneys, or to decrease uric acid production in the first place.
If you have a gout attack in your foot or big toe, make an appointment with one of our doctors right away. We will help manage the pain and come up with a plan for prevention as well.