What is Gout?
Gout is an inflammatory condition that can develop in those who are found to have high levels of uric acid in the blood. The acid can cause sharp crystals to form in joints such as the big toe, fingers, wrists, elbows and knees. These crystals can cause a lot of pain, swelling, tenderness, redness and warmth.
Due to the symptoms, gout can be difficult to diagnose as the symptoms are present in other conditions. Therefore, your doctor will ask you specific questions about your lifestyle, in particular, your diet and your drinking habits. You may be sent for blood tests and you might have to go for an ultrasound or x-ray. In some cases, a thin needle is used to take a sample of fluid from the area that affected so that it can be tested. The tests will then determine how much uric acid there is the body.
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In most cases, gout can be treated using Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. However, if the symptoms do not disappear after around 3-4 days then you might be prescribed steroids in the form of tablets or injections.
Gout can return regularly, particularly if it is not treated. If you are having regular attacks of gout then you might be prescribed a medicine known as allopurinol or febuxostat. These are used to reduce the amount of Uric acid in the body and it might need to be taken over a long period.
It is possible to treat or reduce the chances of having a gout attack by making some changes to your lifestyle. Losing weight can make a difference while cutting out alcohol for at least two days a week can make a difference. You should also aim to drink plenty of fluids to remain hydrated while regular exercise and cutting back on smoking can help to decrease your chances of suffering from the condition.
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