A complex and painful form of arthritis, Gout is caused by the existence of excess uric acid in the blood. When the body has too much uric acid, the kidneys struggle to get rid of it all. Instead, it remains in the bloodstream, causing raised levels of uric acid - a condition termed hyperuricemia. When hyperuricemia becomes rampant, it causes the formation of uric crystals in the joint areas, often starting with the big toe. However, not everyone with high levels of uric acid become victims of gout. It tends to afflict men and women who are post-menopause. Gout is associated with some risk factors. These include genetics, obesity, high alcohol consumption, high intake of purine-rich proteins, certain medications, joint injuries, and kidney diseases. Typically, gout manifests itself as sudden, painful attacks that may take up to a week to subside without medication. Though the attacks may recur, there is often a long gap of several months before a second attack. By knowing the signs and symptoms of gout, you can get help if you suffer an attack.
The most common symptom of gout is intense pain in the joint areas. In many cases, the first attack occurs with sharp aches in the big toe. The pain could also occur in the feet, ankles, hands, wrists, or knees. The attack often occurs in the middle of the night, with the pain lasting anywhere between four to twelve hours. Once the pain subsides, there is a chance of recurrence, though pain usually doesn’t occur again for months. With time, if the condition intensifies, these attacks become more frequent and the pain much harsher. In fact, the aches may begin to occur simultaneously in more than one joint.
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