Risk Factors for Gout

Risk Factors for Gout

Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis, also known as gouty arthritis, that usually affects the big toe. While it sometimes involves other joints such as the smaller toes, ankle, and knee, 90% of gout attacks occur only in the big toe joint. 

Other symptoms of gout include swelling, redness, stiffness, and the sensation of heat. These symptoms may last for days or weeks then disappear for months or even years before flaring up again. As with other forms of arthritis, gout has no cure. However, there are many effective ways to manage symptoms.

The experienced podiatrists at Lake Ridge and Stafford Foot & Ankle Centers share essential information about the risk factors of this painful condition and how you can reduce your risk of developing gout. 

Causes of gout

Gout is caused by too much uric acid in your body. Uric acid is formed when your body breaks down a substance called purines found in the foods you eat. Normally, uric acid is flushed from your system through your kidneys.

When your body produces too much uric acid or when your kidneys aren’t functioning properly, uric acid builds up in your body. As a result of too much uric acid in your system, sharp crystals form around your joint. Eventually, it causes inflammation and pain. 

Foods high in purines include anchovies, sardines, mussels, scallops, trout, red meat, organ meat, and tuna. Red wine and foods high in fructose also contain high levels of purines.

Who is at risk of developing gout?

Anyone can develop gout, but it is much more prevalent in men than women. It is also more common in middle-aged or older people. Of the 8.3 million who have this condition, about 6.1 million are men and 2.2. million are women. Men develop it earlier in life, and women usually develop gout after menopause.

Also, people with kidney dysfunction have a higher risk of developing gout. Other health conditions that increase your risk of developing gout include:

Consuming foods and beverages that have high levels of purine also increases your risk of developing gout. Lastly, having a family history of gout is also a risk factor. 

Managing gout symptoms

Managing gout often includes a multi-pronged approach that reduces pain and flare-ups and manages related conditions. An effective treatment plan is personalized to address your specific risks and symptoms.

For pain, most people start with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen. However, if these over-the-counter medications are insufficient, our team may prescribe steroids or the anti-inflammatory drug colchicine.

Lifestyle and diet changes, such as reducing consumption of food and beverages high in purines and exercising regularly, can prevent flare-ups. Additionally, losing weight through lifestyle and diet changes will also help. If your flare-ups are frequent and intense, our team may prescribe a drug that helps lower uric acid levels.

If you’re experiencing pain in your big toe or other joints in your foot, call Lake Ridge and Stafford Foot & Ankle Centers with offices in Lake Ridge and Stafford, Virginia, to make an appointment with one of our knowledgeable podiatrists. 

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