Gout was previously known as “the disease of kings” since it usually occurred thanks to excessive red meat and alcohol consumption, and both of which were not available to the masses hundreds of years ago. Nowadays, it is one of the most common joint diseases and is well-known to almost everyone. In this article, we will discuss what gout is, what causes it, its symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. In addition, we will also talk about ways to prevent it from happening to you in easy-to-follow steps for your lifestyle.
What is Gout and why does it occur?
Gout is one of the most common causes of joint pain in adults. It occurs when certain crystals called monosodium urate crystals precipitate in joints. Such crystals are sharp and cause significant inflammation and pain. Such crystals can also precipitate in other regions of the body including under the skin, muscles, and kidneys. Such precipitation happens when the level of uric acid increases in blood.
What is uric acid and how does it increase?
Uric acid is a product of body processes to different substances including protein but increased uric acid level is more complex. Processing uric acid is a cycle of many processes and enzymes that control its level in the blood, and it may be affected by different factors including increased intake of some foods like red meat and beverages like coffee. However, this is usually not the case, and no reasonable amount of red meat is enough to cause gout in a healthy person.
In order for uric acid to accumulate, its excretion outside the body should be affected, and it is mainly excreted in urine. Therefore, its level rises when the kidneys are unable to excrete it. Your kidney’s ability to excrete it decreases in:
- Renal disease and failure: One of the main symptoms of patients with renal failure is gout.
- Some medications: Some medications decrease the kidney’s ability to excrete uric acid and others increase the amount accumulated through their action on some enzymes dealing with uric acid. The most common medications associated with decreased excretion are thiazide diuretics and aspirin.
Other common causes of increased uric acid level include:
- Genetics: Some people have a higher possibility of accumulating uric acid thanks to their less effective enzymes.
- Cancer: One of the manifestations of patients with cancer, especially leukemia and lymphoma, is increased uric acid level. This is thanks to the high death and regeneration rate of cancer cells, whose contents are quickly converted to uric acid.
Do all people with high uric acid levels have Gout?
High uric acid levels do not necessarily mean that you will develop the familiar joint pain, and most patients with high uric acid levels can be asymptomatic for years. There is also no direct correlation between the intensity of pain and the level of uric acid in the blood. Managing high uric acid levels becomes a necessity, however, when there are clinical manifestations like kidney disease.
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