Gout & Your Lifestyle
How Gout can affect Your Lifestyle
Gout is a painful rheumatic condition caused by an excess of uric acid. People who are afflicted with gout are advised to get treatment as soon as symptoms occur in order to avoid several long term consequences and lifestyle changes.
If left untreated, gout can become chronic and disabling, breaking down cartilage and bone resulting in permanent deformities in the joints. A survey that was performed in 2006 indicated that about 75% of those afflicted with gout characterize the pain as among the worst they have ever had. The same number of respondents said that gout flare-ups cause even walking to be very uncomfortable. About 70% said that playing sports and putting shoes on required a lot of effort. Fortunately there is very effective medication for pain and to reduce inflammation. The key is to treat it promptly.
Kidney Stones and Kidney Disease
Kidney Stones - In some cases, people with gout can develop painful kidney stones, which is associated with increased uric acid production or hyperuricaemia. Although gout doesn’t necessarily increase kidney stone risk, the likelihood of developing both in a susceptible patient is fairly high but can be mitigated by changing ones diet and making other lifestyle changes. The simplest step one can take is to drink plenty of fluids, especially water, to reduce the concentration of urine produced by the kidneys. Concentrated urine can result in crystallization of the uric acid and stones. Once created, the stones begin to move through the ureter and the pain can be very intense. They may also form in the ureter or the calyces of the kidney.
Kidney Disease. In about one quarter of people with chronic gout develop chronic disease of the kidney and may result in kidney failure. However, most experts believe that those with kidney disease are already predisposed to it, and it then causes the hyperuricaemia and not vice versa.
A person with chronic gout can develop something known as tophus, which is an accumulation of uric acid under the skin causing an unsightly visible bump or mass typically around the joint. Tophi have been known to increase to the size of a ping pong ball, causing destruction of the cartilage and bones. In rare cases, tophi of the spine can cause compression and possible long-term disability.
Gout has been more prevalent in those who are overweight; in fact, obesity increases one’s risk significantly. This might explain why gout is often diagnosed in patients with high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis, however recent studies have shown that hyperuricaemia has been directly linked to a higher incidence of death from heart disease. A study from 2001 indicated that gout may also have a boosting effect on cholesterol and lipids. A more recent study concluded that gout contributes to a higher risk of cardiac arrest in males with no prior history of heart disease. Therefore it is important to address symptoms of gout with your doctor to treat the condition as soon as it presents in order to avoid these more serious conditions.