Gout is a form of arthritis characterised by acute attacks of pain, swelling and inflammation in the joints, especially in the large joints of the toes, such as the big toe. The attacks can be extremely painful and can last for several days.
Symptoms of gout include severe pain, swelling and redness in the affected joint, especially in the big toe. The pain may be worse at night and may be accompanied by fever, chills and sweating. The attacks that produces may be preceded by a period of warmth or numbness in the affected joint.
Gout occurs when uric acid builds up in the joints, forming crystals that cause inflammation. Uric acid is a waste product produced when the body breaks down purines, which are found in certain foods and in the body. Gout occurs most commonly in people with elevated blood uric acid levels, and is more common in men and older people.
Treatment of gout focuses on reducing uric acid levels in the body and relieving pain and inflammation. Medications used to treat gout include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve pain, medications to reduce uric acid levels in the body and colchicine to prevent future attacks. In severe cases, a low-purine diet, lifestyle changes such as weight loss, and avoidance of alcohol and foods containing high levels of purines may be recommended.
It is important that a specialist in rheumatology or inflammatory diseases is in charge of diagnosing and treating gout, as it can be confused with other diseases and requires a multidisciplinary approach for its management. It is also important to receive continuous follow-up and support from your specialist to monitor the evolution of the disease and treat any complications in a timely manner.