Gout is a type of arthritis that flares periodically, so the pain of gout is experienced as an attack. Gout attacks usually appear with no warning and leave sufferers in severe pain. Gout is one of the most painful medical conditions. It's been compared with childbirth and bone fractures. Gout attacks usually last from 3 to 10 days and can cause severe pain, tenderness, redness, and swelling in an affected joint. These are all signs of inflammation, so gout is sometimes called an Inflammatory Arthritis.
Even though a gout attack may come on suddenly, its underlying cause may always be there festering below the surface. The underlying cause is an excess of a waste product in your blood called Uric Acid. Many people have excess uric acid and most do not get gout. But if you have periodic gout attacks, research has shown that your risk of having future episodes goes up with the level of uric acid in your blood.
You experience the pain of gout when the excess uric acid forms small crystals that deposit in your joints, causing your body to respond with inflammation and pain, in these areas. If you have gout, you might have attacks as long as there are uric acid crystals remaining in your body. Also, if left untreated, uric acid crystals may form large deposits, in and around joints. These large deposits (pronounced Tophi) may cause long term joint damage. However, with proper treatment, most people with gout are able to control their symptoms. By lowering your uric acid level, and keeping it low, you may be able to stop crystals from forming and protect yourself against attacks.
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- Drink water to help your kidneys flush excess uric acid out of your system. A minimum of 12 eight-ounce glasses a day has been suggested.
- Keep a close eye on your diet. Since the breakdown of natural chemical compounds called 'purines' into excess uric acid in your bloodstream is at the heart of your gout, it makes sense to try to keep away from purine-rich food. Foods such as poultry, dried legumes, shellfish, red meat, game and offal are all high in purines, so should be avoided.
- Eat vegetables and fruits that are high in vitamin C., particularly oranges. Vitamin C. can reduce uric acid levels in your bloodstream. Make these part of your '5 a day'.
- Some studies have shown that drinking coffee - both decaff and regular - reduces uric acid levels although, exactly how, no one knows.
- Blue-red fruits such as cherries, blueberries, strawberries, grapes etc. are also known to be beneficial, especially cherries.
- Herbal remedies have been around for thousands of years. Herbs such as; Nettle, Juniper, Hawthorn, Garlic, Devil's Claw, etc.
- Gently exercise the affected joint. Exercise helps to strengthen the joint, reduce stiffness and increase flexibility.
Some things like your weight, family history of gout or arthritis, body pH, underlying medical conditions, etc. Understanding all these contributory factors as well as available alternative treatments will ensure that you are better placed to get rid of your pain and prevent your gout returning. Prevention is particularly important since frequently recurring gout attacks can end up in permanently damaged joints.
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