Gout: Dr. Rosemary Leonard advises on symptoms and treatment
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Arthritis is an umbrella term for several conditions where the joints become afflicted with debilitating pain. Most of these start with the deterioration of the cartilage. More painful forms of arthritis, like gout, occur when sharp “needle-shaped” crystals collect in the joints. According to some health bodies, two vitamins may contribute to the development of gout by leaving waste products in the blood.
According to WebMD, gout “commonly occurs in episodic attacks that cause unexpected pain, typically through the night”.
It adds: “Gout attacks most commonly happen in the big toe, […] other joints can experience severe pain and other symptoms.”
What’s more, though the attacks typically occur at night they can last up to two weeks, and many people remain symptomless in between episodes.
To prevent an attack from coming on, the University of Maryland Medical Centre cautions against the use of certain vitamins like niacin and vitamin A.
Doctors, however, may prescribe some vitamins to gout patients, especially those who have nutritional deficiencies.
Niacin – also known as vitamin B3 – is critical for the functioning of the metabolism and is a water-soluble vitamin.
It is used to assist in the proper functioning of the digestive system, skin and nerves.
The Mayo Clinic adds: “Niacin can cause an excess of uric acid in the blood (hyperuricemia) putting you at risk of gout.”
Vitamin A, on the other hand, is a fat-soluble vitamin with an important role in maintaining skin and eye health.
When taken at high doses, it can also lead to a build-up of uric acid in the blood.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, gout develops predominantly in people “who have high levels of ruin acid in the blood”.
It continues: “Needle-shaped crystals form in and around joints – often beginning in the base of the big toe – causing episodes of severe pain, heat and swelling.”
According to NHS Inform, other symptoms can include:
- The joint feels hot and very tender
- Swelling in and around the affected joint
- Red, shiny skin over the affected joint
- Peeling, itchy and flaky skin as the swelling goes down.
Some foods containing high levels of purines can also increase uric acid concentrations in the blood.
Such foods include organ meats, kidneys, liver and sweetbread, as well as yeast-rich foods.
Instead, the Mayo Clinic advises eating more fruit, vegetables and whole grains, to offset the risk of painful attacks.
It adds: “Avoid foods and beverages with high-fructose corn syrup and limit consumption of naturally sweet fruit juices.”
Staying well hydrated is also key, as drinking water helps flush uric acid crystals out of the system.
Ideally, individuals should drink enough water to urinate every two to three hours, according to doctors.
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