Joint pain can happen for many reasons, but a common cause is arthritis, which is a type of inflammation and swelling that affects your joints. Gout is a type of arthritis that can cause intense pain and swelling in joints throughout your body, but more often than not affects your big toe.
If you think you’re dealing with the symptoms of gout, Dr. Shawn Veiseh provides efficient, effective, and convenient care for this condition and a wide variety of other acute and chronic illnesses from his practice in Beverly Hills, California.
In the United States, 8.3 million men and women suffer from gout, and left untreated it can create other problems in your body. But what factors lead to getting gout, and who’s more likely to get it? Let’s explore this by looking at how gout affects your body, its causes and symptoms, and what risk factors to look for.
How gout affects your body
Your body naturally produces a chemical substance called purine which creates uric acid as a waste product. Normally you have low levels of uric acid in your body which are filtered out through your kidneys and expelled through your urine, but if your body makes too much or your kidneys don’t excrete enough, it can form sharp urate crystals that can get into your joints or surrounding tissue.
This creates the environment for conditions like gout and kidney stones.
Causes and symptoms
Too much uric acid in your blood is known as hyperuricemia and is a common cause for gout. It can be caused by a diet heavy in red meat, organ meat, seafood, and beans.
Symptoms of gout include intense joint pain followed by lingering discomfort that can last for up to a few weeks, inflammation, redness, and limited movement in your affected joints. Other than your big toe, gout can also affect your ankles, knees, wrists, elbows, and fingers.
Aside from diet, several factors increase your chances of getting hyperuricemia and gout, such as:
- Drinking alcohol can make removing uric acid from your body more difficult
- Obesity increases the amount of visceral fat (fat around your abdomen), which can raise your chances of gout
- Renal insufficiency problems or other conditions that affect your body’s ability to remove waste can lead to hyperuricemia and gout
- If your family has a history of the condition, you’re more likely to deal with it yourself
- Men often experience gout between 30-50 years of age, while women may not deal with it until after menopause
Leaving this condition untreated and not making any lifestyle changes can lead to various complications like recurrent gout, kidney stones, and tophi, a result of advanced gout.
This form of arthritis can be a source of pain and recurring complications, but it’s quite treatable with medications and lifestyle changes. If you’re dealing with the symptoms of gout, we can help. To get relief, make an appointment with Dr. Veiseh today by calling our office or scheduling online.