Gout is a pathologic medical condition that encompasses several biochemical processes in the body. It is the elevation of (BUA) blood uric acid in the blood stream which maybe because of various underlying occurrences. When you can’t stretch those hands in the morning, or you feel pains in your joints every now and then, or you have low back pains, then you most probably have gout.
Uric acid comes from our diet and is the breakdown product of purines. Purines come from a variety of foods like cabbage, lettuce, sardines, visceral organs, and legumes (peas, beans, nuts, etc).
When we are fond of these foods and the excretory organ of our body could not excrete these substances normally, then they accumulate in the blood causing hyperuricemia, amass in the joints resulting to gouty arthritis and are turned in the kidney into kidney stones causing nephrolithiasis.
What are the symptoms of gout?
*You have early morning numbness or tight muscles. You can open and close your fist only with difficulty, as the day progresses this usually “loosens”. Even your feet feel tight and you have difficulty walking upon waking up.
*You have pain in your joints. Sometimes swelling occurs on your knee joints, ankle joints, or hand joints.
*You have a low back pain and sometimes have difficulty walking.
*You may have difficulty in urinating. In serious conditions, blood may even be present in your urine.
How can you be sure you have the condition?
*Consult your physician. He would be responsible in collating all your symptoms and lab results to give the correct diagnosis.
*Your Blood Uric Acid laboratory test would be elevated above the normal levels. Normal Values are usually between 2-6 mg/dL for females and 3-7 mg/dL for males.
*Your routine urinalysis may yield uric acid stones in the microscopic examination. Uric acid crystals may appear as rhombic plates or rosettes which are light or dark brown in color.
How is gout treated?
*Your family physician would be the best person to treat you if you have gout. This is because he knows about your medical history and is familiar with whatever other existing conditions you may have (i.e. diabetes, etc).
*The usual treatment is an anti-hyperuricemic drug that can “dissolve” the stones either in your joints or kidneys.
*Anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs maybe given to reduce swelling and alleviate pain.
*Water therapy is advised. More than 8 glasses of water should be consumed each day.
Are there any preventive measures?
Eating a healthy diet is the foremost preventive measure. The body needs purines but you should learn how to balance your intake. Legumes (beans, peas, anything in pods) are proteins and are needed as building blocks of the body.
*You should eat dishes with visceral organs moderately. We need the calcium coming from these dishes but too much will lead to hyperuricemia.
*Balance your intake of sardines and other canned goods; these are rich in uric acid.
*Balance your intake of the kale vegetables (cabbage, lettuce, etc) as these have high uric acid content.
*Do not drink alcohol when you are on a high purine diet as this will decrease the excretion of purines from your system. When the excretion of uric acid is decreased; this will then start to amass in your system and will eventually lead to gout. This is because uric acid can only be excreted in an acid urine because the can be dissolved an alcohol may cause eventual alkalinity of the urine.
*Exercise can help up to a certain extent to “loosen” the joints so make it a habit to have light exercises everyday. Exercise can also prevent other pathologic conditions like heart ailments, hypertension and the like.
Awareness of these preventive measures will help you avoid gout. Be informed and stay healthy.