Let's face it we have reached that “dangerous” part of the year when we throw all caution to the wind as we eat, drink, and be merry. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” is something that most of us take to heart, after all. But when you have reached that certain age when you can’t be considered a spring chicken anymore, overindulging in any one, or worse, all of these favorite activities during the holidays can really be bad for
At the least, you might find yourself waking up one night due to an intense pain in the joint at the base of your big toe, like it’s on fire. Feeling hot, swollen, and so tender, the toe has become too sensitive that even the mere touch of the sheet will cause you agony.
Fortunately it’s not bad as you might be thinking in those moments of misery. Most likely, it’s gout, a complex form of arthritis that can affect anyone although men between the ages of 30 and 50 are more susceptible while women usually get it after the onset of menopause. Luckily it is treatable and its recurrence can be avoided or minimized.
Signs and Symptoms
Usually, the signs and symptoms of gout occur suddenly, at night and without warning. They include intense joint pain in the big toe, but can also happen in the feet, ankles, knees, hands, and wrists. The pain is most severe within the first four to twelve hours, before tapering off in the next few days or even weeks. Movement in the affected joint will also be hampered. A trip to the doctor is needed when there is fever and the joint is hot and inflamed as this might mean an infection. Also, keep in mind that gout that remains untreated can lead to joint damage and worsening pain.
The inflammation and intense pain associated with gout is caused by the accumulation of urate crystals in your joint as a result of high levels of uric acid in the blood. Our body produces uric acid to break down purine, the substance found naturally in the body in certain foods that, unfortunately, most of us like to eat, such as steaks, organ meats, and seafood. Also, alcoholic beverages, especially beer, and drinks sweetened with fructose promote further production of uric acid. Normal levels of uric acid dissolve in our blood and passes through the kidneys into urine, but the extra amount can lead to the buildup of urate crystals in the joint or surrounding tissue. These needle-like substances cause the pain, inflammation, and swelling.
Factors that increase the level of uric acid in the body:
1. Eating a diet high in meat and seafood, and drinking large amounts of alcohol and beverages sweetened with fruit sugar.
2. Being overweight.
3. Certain diseases and conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart and kidney diseases.
4. Use of drugs that treat hypertension or anti-rejection drugs for those who have undergone organ transplant.
5. When other members of the family have
6. Age and sex.
7. Recent surgery or trauma.
With these factors in mind, we can certainly do our part to help us avoid gout attacks in the future. High on the list is watching what we eat and drink, especially during the holidays. Drinking lots of water, getting protein from low-fat dairy products, and keeping our body’s ideal weight are things that will lessen the risk factor for gout. There are also some foods that are found to have the potential to lower uric acid levels in the body, such as coffee, fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C, and cherries.
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