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What Causes Gout and What Can I Do About It?

Have you had a sudden attack of severe pain in your big toe? Or maybe you've woken up in the middle of the night feeling like your toe is on fire? If so, you may be suffering from gout.

Here at Kazmer Foot & Ankle Centers in Elgin and Barrington, Illinois, Dr. Gary Kazmer and our staff treat a wide range of foot and ankle issues including gout. We provide a variety of state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment services while always focusing on conservative care first and allowing the body to heal naturally when possible.

Gout basics

A type of inflammatory arthritis, gout occurs when high levels of uric acid collect in the blood. This acid creates needle-like crystals in joints which cause sudden and severe pain. It can strike any joint, but frequently affects the big toe.

In addition to pain, symptoms can include swelling and redness, and the joint can feel hot. Attacks often occur during the night and begin with intense pain that is typically at its worst in the first 4-12 hours. After the pain decreases, most people have lingering discomfort lasting from a couple days to a few weeks, along with joint inflammation and redness. 

Range of motion in the big toe joint can become limited over time as gout progresses.

Causes and risk factors

Uric acid is produced by the body when it breaks down purines, which are found naturally in the body as well as in high-protein foods like red meats, organ meats, and some types of seafood. Alcoholic drinks, especially beer, and fructose-sweetened beverages can also raise uric acid levels. High levels typically occur when the body either creates too much uric acid or excretes too little.

 Gout strikes men more often than women until women undergo menopause, when the likelihood becomes similar. A family history of gout, being overweight, and undergoing recent surgery or trauma are risk factors. 

Medical conditions like untreated high blood pressure, diabetes, and diseases of the heart and kidney can also raise your chances of developing gout. So can taking certain medications, such as thiazide diuretics and low-dose aspirin.

Treatment and prevention

Treatment typically involves nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications to help control symptoms and halt further damage.

Multiple attacks can lead to a variety of complications, including the erosion and destruction of the joint and the development of kidney stones. Therefore, prevention of future attacks is also key. You may be able to prevent future gout flare-ups by following these tips:

If you need treatment for gout, call or click today to book an appointment with Dr. Kazmer. 

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