Rheumatologist explains the causes of gout and effective treatment options in Encinitas, CA
Gout is a painful but common type of arthritis that can strike anyone. Learning about the causes and symptoms of gout can help patients better understand the disease and make an informed choice about which treatments they want to pursue. Dr. Peter Lloyd, Board certified rheumatologist at Seaside Rheumatology in Encinitas, CA, understands how much a gout flare-up can negatively impact your life and is here to help you every step of the way.
What is gout?
A form of arthritis that is caused by excessive amounts of uric acid building up in the bloodstream. It causes swelling, stiffness, and intense pain in the affected joints. It is very common–the CDC estimates that 8.3 million Americans are affected by it.
What causes it?
Your body produces uric acid naturally after you eat certain foods that contain purines. When uric acid builds up in your blood, it can cause uric acid crystals to form in the joints. The negative symptoms associated with gout are due to these crystals.
Does it only affect the big toe joint?
While most people with gout experience pain, swelling, and inflammation in their big toe, it can affect any joint in the body.
Do only men get it?
While men are more likely to be affected by gout—in fact, it is the most common type of inflammatory arthritis that men have—women can also get it. Post-menopausal women are more susceptible.
Once I have it, will it keep coming back?
Gout attacks do tend to return in patients. They typically start very rapidly, often in the middle of the night, and depending on whether the gout is treated, can keep coming back over time. Each bout can cause harm to your joints and tissues, so it is important to work with a qualified rheumatologist to keep your gout controlled with medications if needed. You can also reduce your risk of future flare-ups by losing weight, modifying your diet to reduce foods rich in purines, and limiting your alcohol intake.
How long will it last if I don’t treat it?
A typical episode of gout will typically last for about 14 days if it is untreated. With treatment, it can be resolved in as little as three days. If you don’t treat gout, it can lead to increased pain and possibly even damage or deform your joints, and you are more likely to have future episodes more frequently than if you treat it.
What are my treatment options?
Most cases of gout can be successfully treated with medications, which not only resolve your symptoms but also help prevent future flare-ups and minimize your risk of complications from gout. Depending on the severity of your gout flare-up, Dr. Lloyd may recommend one or more of the following:
- Medications that reduce pain and inflammation in the afflicted areas:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen
- Xanthine oxidase inhibitors: medications that reduce the amount of uric acid your body produces
- Probenecid: a medication that enhances the amount of uric acid your kidneys remove from your body
Changing your diet can also have a positive effect on your symptoms.
What foods should I avoid while I am having a gout flare-up?
Since gout is caused by high uric acid levels in your body, there are certain foods you should avoid while you are experiencing a gout episode. These include:
- Red meat
- Organ meats
- Sugary beverages
- Processed foods and refined carbohydrates
We encourage our patients with gout to instead eat healthy options that are less likely to raise your uric acid levels, such as skim milk and low-fat dairy, vegetables, coffee, and whole grains. And don’t forget to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, which helps flush out your system.
Stop suffering from gout and call us today
If you suspect that you have gout or you are experiencing a flare-up of gout that has been previously diagnosed, we can help. There are effective treatment options available to you, and Dr. Lloyd is committed to working with his patients to resolve the symptoms of gout that are causing them pain and suffering. Seaside Rheumatology is always accepting new patients. If you are in the area of Encinitas, CA, we encourage you to call us today at 760-509-2429 to schedule an appointment.
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