Gout attacks are caused by deposits of crystallized uric acid in the joint. Uric acid is present in the blood and eliminated in the urine, but in people who have gout, uric acid accumulates and crystallizes in the joints. Uric acid is the result of the breakdown of purines, chemicals that are found naturally in our bodies and in food. Some people develop gout because their kidneys have difficulty eliminating normal amounts of uric acid, while others produce too much uric acid.
Gout occurs most commonly in the big toe because uric acid is sensitive to temperature changes. At cooler temperatures, uric acid turns into crystals. Since the toe is part of the body that is farthest from the heart, it's also the coolest part of the body- and, thus, the most likely target of gout. However, gout can affect any joint in the body.
Consuming foods and beverages that contain high levels of purines can trigger an attack of gout. Some foods contain more purines than other and have been associated with an increase of uric acid, which leads to gout. You may be able to reduce your chance of getting a gout attack by limiting or avoiding shellfish, organ meat (kidney, liver, etc), red wine, beer, and red meat.
An attack of gout can be miserable, marked by the following symptoms:
- Intense pain that comes on suddenly- often in the middle of the night or upon arising.
- Signs of inflammation such as redness, swelling, and warmth over the joint.
Initial treatment of a gout attack typically includes the following:
- Medications. Prescription medications or injections are used to treat the pain, swelling, and inflammation.
- Dietary restrictions. Foods and beverages that are high in purines should be avoided, since purines are converted in the body to uric acid.
- Fluids. Drink plenty of water and other fluids each day, while also avoiding alcoholic beverages, which cause dehydration.
- Immobilize and elevate the foot. Avoid standing and walking to give your foot a rest. Also, elevate your foot (level with or slightly above the heart) to help reduce swelling.
If you have gout and do not currently see a podiatrist, call one of our six locations to make an appointment.
Connecticut Foot Care Centers
Podiatrists in CT
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