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Cause of Gout Symptoms Gout Diet Treatment

What is Cause of Gout Symptoms Gout Diet Treatment

Gout is the most common form of crystal induced arthritis, characterised by the deposition of crystals in and around joints and tendons. In some patients this may be asymptomatic, in others it will cause an acute inflammatory reaction (acute gout), or it may result in the slow destruction of the involved tissue after repeated attacks (chronic gout).

Who gets it?

It is estimated that gout affects 0.2% of the population in Europe and the USA. However it is thought that raised uric acid levels in the blood (often a feature of gout) is far more common. Gout is seen more often in developed countries (perhaps due to the influence of diet, high cholesterol and diabetes), and is more common in men than women. It commonly occurs in middle age for men and after menopause in women.

Predisposing Factors

A family history of gout is commonly seen. Raised uric acid levels (hyperuricaemia) in the blood predispose to the development of gout, however most people with increased levels of uric acid do not develop symptoms. Hyperuricaemia is more common in certain ethnic groups such as Maouris. Uric acid levels increase with age, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and raise blood pressure, foods such as liver and oily fish, high cholesterol and excess consumption of alcohol.

Progression

Gout is caused by a metabolic disorder characterised by raised uric acid levels and the deposition of urate crystals in joints and tissues, resulting in acute inflammation of the joint.

Two forms of gout have been described:

1) primary (95%) - an inherited condition due to either overproduction or underexcretion of uric acid;

2) secondary (5%) - due to an acquired condition causing either overproduction or underexcretion of uric acid eg. renal failure.

Probable Outcomes

With early treatment and control, prognosis is excellent. Recurrent attacks of gout may require life long treatment with medications to control uric acid levels, but this is usually effective.

How is it diagnosed?

The signs and symptoms of gout are usually enough to make a diagnosis. Fluid can be taken from the affect joint and examined under microscopy but this is often inconvient and unecessary, unless infection is suspected. Uric acid levels are often raised in gout.

Joint damage in chronic gout can be seen on x-ray.

How is it treated?

Acute attacks of gout are treated with anti-inflammatory medications to reduce pain and swelling. The patient is advised to rest the joint. Between attacks attention may be given to reducing risk of further attacks by losing weight, reducing alcohol consumption and modifying diet if necessary.

If attacks of gout are frequent, or tophi (crystal deposits) develop in the joints, long term therapy is considered. A medication called allopurinol is usually prescribed, in combination with anti-inflammatory drugs (to minimise the risk of allopurinol precipitating acute gout in the first few months).

Symptoms of this disease:

Treatments used in this disease:

Drugs used in the treatment of this disease:

Article Dates:

calendar icon Created: 19/9/2004 calendar icon Modified: 26/6/2007
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