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Adam May & Catherine Addison-Swan

Brits urged to look out for gout warning signs as NHS sees surge in cases

The NHS has warned people to familiarise themselves with symptoms of gout after reporting a rise in cases of the disease.

A type of arthritis that causes sudden and severe joint pain and leads to hot and swollen skin in the affected area, gout is most commonly seen in the big toe or joints of the feet, hands, elbows and knees. It affects around 1.5 million people in the UK, a number which has seen a surge in recent years.

The NHS stated that 250,000 people were admitted to hospital with gout over the course of 2021-22. Cases have risen by 20% in the last three years, The Mirror reports .

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Once known as ‘the disease of kings’, gout is just one of the illnesses common in Victorian times that has bounced back in recent years. NHS figures showed that the number of people being admitted to hospital that were found to have diseases including gout, tuberculosis, measles, scurvy and mumps hit a five-year high in the North East earlier this year .

This pattern was evident across the UK, with more than 420,000 Brits being diagnosed with one of 13 ‘Victorian’ illnesses when admitted to hospital in the year up to March 2022 - up 25% from 2020/21 after dipping during the pandemic.

An attack of gout tends to last between five and seven days - and seeking treatment immediately may avoid it causing lasting damage to joints, the NHS says. Attacks of gout are typically treated with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen, and you may also be given steroids if the pain and swelling does not improve.

According to the NHS website , gout sometimes runs in families and is more common in men, particularly as they get older. The health service says that you may have a higher chance of getting gout if you are overweight, drink alcohol, have had surgery or an injury, or have been through the menopause.

Having high cholesterol, high blood pressure, kidney problems, osteoarthritis or diabetes, or being on medication such as diuretics or medicines for high blood pressure, can also increase your risk. As gout can come back every few months or years, those who have had gout are advised to eat a healthy and balanced diet, drink plenty of fluids, have alcohol-free days and get regular exercise to help prevent it coming back.

The main symptoms to look out for include: sudden severe pain in your joint (usually the big toe, hands, wrist, elbow or knees); hot skin; swollen joints; and redness over the affected joint. The NHS advises anyone experiencing these symptoms to see a GP for treatment, or to request an urgent appointment or call 111 if the pain is getting worse, you feel sick, or have a very high temperature.


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