Gout is a type of arthritis that causes sudden, severe joint pain. It often runs in families and is more common in men - especially as they get older.
Some people are more at risk of developing gout than others. According to the NHS, you are more likely to suffer with the illness if you are overweight, drink alcohol, have been through the menopause, take medicines for high blood pressure or diuretics, have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, kidney problems, osteoarthritis, diabetes or have had an injury or surgery.
Symptoms of gout include a sudden severe pain in a joint with hot, swollen and red skin over it. An attack can last between five and seven days.
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You should see a doctor if you have symptoms of the illness as it can cause lasting damage to joints if you do not get treatment immediately. Here's all you need to know about gout, according to the NHS:
When to get an urgent GP appointment or call 111
Ask for an urgent GP appointment or call 111 if the pain worsening, you have a very high temperature or you feel sick and cannot eat. These symptoms could mean you have an infection inside your joint and need urgent medical help.
How to treat gout attacks
Gout is usually treated with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen. But if the pain and swelling does not reduce, you may be given steroids as tablets or an injection.
To help recovery, you should:
Take any medicine you've been prescribed as soon as possible – it should start to work within 2 days
Rest and raise the limb
Keep the joint cool – apply an ice pack, or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel, for up to 20 minutes at a time
Drink lots of water (unless a GP tells you not to)
Try to keep bedclothes off the affected joint at night
You shouldn't put pressure on the joint though, according to NHS.
How to prevent gout coming back
Gout can come back every few months or it may be years. If it's not treated, it could come back more often.
Those who have frequent attacks or high levels of uric acid in their blood may need to take uric acid-lowering medicine. Making lifestyle changes may stop or reduce further attacks.
According to the NHS, you should:
Get to a healthy weight, but avoid crash diets – try the NHS weight loss plan
Eat a healthy, balanced diet – your doctor may give you a list of foods to include or limit
Have some alcohol-free days each week
Drink plenty of fluids to avoid getting dehydrated
Exercise regularly – but avoid intense exercise or putting lots of pressure on joints
Ask a GP about vitamin C supplements
What triggers a gout attack?
You should get treatment immediately if you feel an attack starting. You may be more likely to get an attack if you:
- Have an illness that causes a high temperature
- Drink too much alcohol or eat a very large, fatty meal
- Get dehydrated
- Injure a joint
- Take certain medicines
Complications of gout
While it is rare to have chronic gout - where you get lots of attacks - is it possible, and it could damage your joint.
It can also cause tiny white lumps, called tophi, to appear under your skin, usually on your ears, fingers or elbows. This can be painful and is where urate crystals form under your skin.
You can also get kidney stones if your uric acid levels are very high, so you'll need treatment to reduce the levels.
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