What is gout disease? What is it caused? What are the symptoms? How is it diagnosed? How to treat? What are the possible complications? How do you live with gout? How do you live with the disease?
    What exactly is Gout?
    Gout is a chronic disease that is manifested by flare ups of joint inflammation. During a bout of gout, redness, swelling and severe pain occur in one or more joints - often in the base of the toe. The inflammation may also be present in other joints. A bout of gout at the base of the toe is called a Podagra. The inflammation is caused by a deposition of crystals of uric acid in the joint.
    Gout shows up most of the time around the age of 40-50, and affects men more than women. The flare ups can be treated and even be prevented, but it can not be cured completely.
    What causes gout?
    The typical joint inflammation of gout is caused by the deposition of uric acid crystals in the liquid of the joint - a process that occurs because of a high level of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is created naturally in the body and certain foods contain high amount of it, such as meat, alcohol and certain edible fish.
    What are the symptoms of the disease?
    Redness, swelling and intense pain - often in the base of the toe, but sometimes in other joints in the lower and upper extremities such as the knee, ankle or palms.
    How long doed it last?
    Gout is a chronic disease that can not be cured. However, due to the effective treatments we have, the level of the uric acid in the blood can be reduced, thus preventing the bouts of the disease.
    How is gout diagnosed?
    A typical bout of Gout is easily diagnosed at the clinic by the doctor. In uncertain conditions, the diagnosis can be confirmed by puncturing the inflamed joint and aspirating a little liquid out of it. When injecting the needle into the joint, it is possible to inject anti-inflammatory material into the joint, as well as anesthetic to relieve the symptoms.
    The material drawn is examined under the microscope to see if it contains crystals of Uric acid. The crystals look like thin pins. In addition, the level of the acid in the blood should be checked.
    How is it  treated?
    The prevention of Gout flare-ups is being done by reducing the level of uric acid in the blood. There are several types of medications that can control the uric acid level: Alopurinol and Febuxostat, that reduces the production of the Uric acid in the body, and Probenecid, that increases the secretion of the uric acid from the body in the urine.
    Maintaining a 'purine free diet' is also very important, because the flare ups tend to apear quite often after eating large amount of meat, fish or alcohol.
    During a bout of gout, anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers can be used to relieve arthritis symptoms. Often the patient is also prescribed Colchicine or Steroids (orally or an injection).
    Will it come back?
    Gout attacks tend to return. Therefore, if treatment is recommended, take it regularly to prevent recurrence.
    Could there be complications for gout?
    Complications may occur following repeated gout attacks if the disease is not treated properly. The two main complications are:
    TOPHI: The deposition of uric acid under the skin in various areas of the body and the formation of lumps under the skin. These lumps can cause various disturbances depending on their location. For example, if they are located in the foot area, they can cause pain when walking. A lump in the facial area may cause an an aesthetic problem.
    Kidney stones: Uric acid is cleared from the body by the kidneys. Its high level can cause kidney stones.
    What are the warning signs that require immediate medical attention?
    Redness, swelling and severe pain in one of the extremities of the limbs - often in the base of the toe - require contacting the family doctor for an examiination, diagnosis, and treatment.
    How long will it take to heal?
    A bout of gout usually lasts a few days and then passes. But this is a chronic disease, and the attacks may repeat themselves. Proper treatment will usually prevent such flare ups.
    How do you learn to live with a gout?
    It is recommended to reduce the intake of foods rich in Uric acid (such as meat, sardines and mushrooms), to take the medication on a regular basis and to get checked as required. If arthritis develops, it is advisable to consult your family doctor for treatment that will relieve your suffer during the attack.