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Nottingham Post
Nottingham Post
Adam May & Robert Rowlands

NHS lists warning signs as cases of 'Victorian disease' reach highest levels in years

The NHS says there has been a sudden increase in admissions for a severe Victorian disease. Four warning signs are being highlighted as crucial to spotting signs of gout.

About 1.5 million UK people are affected by the condition. It is a type of arthritis that causes extreme joint pain, the Mirror reports.

NHS data shows that around 250,000 people have been admitted to hospital with gout over 2021-22. And cases have risen by 20 percent in the last three years. Earlier this year, Britons were told cases of Victorian illnesses had reached a five-year high, the Mail reports.

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The problem is such that statistics from the NHS show that patients in England were diagnosed with one of 13 Victorian diseases when admitted to hospital 421,370 times in the year to March 2022. That includes gout, cholera, TB, scurvy, mumps, malnutrition, whooping cough, measles, typhoid, scarlet fever, diphtheria, rickets, and vitamin D deficiency - even if it was not the primary reason for their admission.

The total was up by 25 percent from 338,216 hospital admissions in 2020/21. It had dipped during the pandemic after previously rising year on year.

That means the number of in-patients diagnosed with these Victorian diseases is at the highest level since at least 2017/18, when these figures begin.

An attack of gout usually goes on for between five and seven days before improving. Lasting damage to joints can be avoided if people get treatment immediately, NHS guidance says.

People can also try to prevent getting it in the first place. Having a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet and having alcohol-free days will all help.

The main symptoms to look out for include: sudden severe pain in your joint (normally the big toe, hands, wrist, elbow or knees); swollen joints; redness over the affected joint; and hot skin.

Dr Alastair Dickson, a GP and trustee of the UK Gout Society, said many doctors still view it as a condition caused by overconsumption. "There’s a lack of awareness that it is inherently a genetic disease," he told the Mail.

The medical journal Lancet Regional Health - Europe said in a report in May that only a minority of UK patients are given preventative medication within a year of being diagnosed.

One of the report’s authors, Dr Mark Russell, NIHR research fellow at King’s College London, told Good Health: "Without preventative treatment, flare-ups tend to become more frequent over time and can develop into a chronic arthritis that never fully settles.

"Long-term treatment with urate-lowering medications such as allopurinol prevents attacks and joint damage in people with gout and improves quality of life."

If gout is not tackled, it can keep returning. Multiple flare-ups can also lead to a condition called tophi.

These are large deposits of crystals underneath the skin. They can cause joint damage and deformity.

Causes of a gout flare up include:

  • Older age

  • Being male at birth

  • Obesity

  • Diet high in purines, which are broken down into uric acid in your body

  • Alcohol use

  • Sweetened beverages, sodas and high fructose corn syrup

  • Medications including diuretics, low dose aspirin, some antibiotics prescribed for tuberculosis, and cyclosporine


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