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ID: 129
Category: Inflammation
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createdon: 03 Feb 2023
updatedon: 04 Apr 2023

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Author: Khoa Tran
Published Feb 03, 2023
Updated Apr 04, 2023

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Gout

Etymology and Pronunciation

Gout (pronounced GAUHT - It rhymes with the words "out" and "shout")
gutta - Latin for "a drop". This is because gout was once believed to be caused by drops of a toxic substance that would collect in the joints

History of Gout

The history of gout can be traced back to ancient times, with evidence of the condition found in mummies dating back to ancient Egypt.

Gout is derived from the Latin word "gutta" meaning "drop" which refers to the belief that gout was caused by drops of a thick, oily substance that seeped from the joints and caused pain and inflammation.

In ancient Greece, gout was known as "podagra" which means "foot seizure" as it often affected the big toe. In ancient Rome, the condition was referred to as "arthritis urica" which means "uric acid arthritis" reflecting the belief that the condition was caused by the accumulation of uric acid in the joints.

In ancient Greece, gout was known as the "disease of kings" as it was often associated with wealthy individuals who indulged in rich foods and alcohol. The condition was also well-documented in ancient Rome, where it was referred to as "podagra" and was described by the physician Galen in the 2nd century CE.

Throughout the Middle Ages, gout continued to be associated with wealth and excess, and it was often depicted in artwork as a symbol of gluttony and indulgence. In the 17th and 18th centuries, gout became increasingly common among the middle classes, leading to greater interest and study of the condition among physicians and scientists.

In the 19th century, medical researchers began to develop a greater understanding of the underlying causes of gout, including the role of uric acid in the formation of crystals in the joints. In the 20th century, treatments for gout were developed, including medications to manage pain and reduce inflammation, as well as medications to lower uric acid levels in the body.

Modern Understanding of Gout

Gout is a type of arthritis that causes sudden, severe pain and swelling in the joints, most commonly in the big toe. It occurs as a result of an overproduction of uric acid in the body, leading to its buildup in the joints and surrounding tissue. When this buildup reaches high levels, the uric acid can form needle-like crystals that cause pain and inflammation.

Gout is caused by a metabolic disorder in which the body cannot properly break down purines, compounds found in many foods and drinks. People with gout often have a high-purine diet, drink alcohol excessively, or are dehydrated, which can contribute to the buildup of uric acid in the body. Other factors that can increase the risk of developing gout include genetics, renal insufficiency, and hypertension, and the use of certain medications such as diuretics.

The symptoms of gout can come on suddenly and are often accompanied by intense pain in one or more joints, tenderness, swelling, and redness. Other symptoms include joint stiffness, warmth, and swelling. Gout attacks can range from acute, which are short and intense, to chronic, which are ongoing and less severe.

Diagnosis of gout is typically made based on the patient's symptoms, a physical exam, and lab tests to check the levels of uric acid in the blood. X-rays may also be taken to confirm the presence of uric acid crystals in the joints.

Causes of Gout

Gout is caused by a buildup of uric acid in the body, a condition called hyperuricemia. Uric acid is a waste product that is normally filtered out of the blood by the kidneys and excreted in urine. However, in people with gout, either the body produces too much uric acid or the kidneys are unable to excrete enough of it. This excess uric acid can form crystals that accumulate in the joints and cause inflammation, leading to the symptoms of gout.

Certain foods and drinks, such as meat, seafood, and alcohol, can increase the amount of uric acid in the body. 

Several factors can contribute to the development of hyperuricemia and gout, including genetics, a diet high in purines (found in meat, seafood, and alcohol), obesity, certain medical conditions (such as high blood pressure and diabetes), and the use of certain medications (such as diuretics and aspirin).

Treatments for Gout

Treatment options for gout include medication, lifestyle changes, and self-care measures. Colchicine, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and corticosteroids can help to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Other medications, such as allopurinol, febuxostat, and probenecid, can help lower uric acid levels in the body.

In order to prevent gout, it is important to maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, avoid excessive alcohol consumption, and stay hydrated. If you have gout, it is also important to avoid high-purine foods and limit your intake of red meat, organ meats, and seafood.

Gout can be a painful and debilitating condition, but with proper treatment and management, it is possible to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. If you suspect that you have gout, it is important to seek medical attention to determine the best course of treatment. With the right combination of medications, lifestyle changes, and self-care measures, you can effectively manage gout and reduce your risk of future attacks.

Symptoms

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Tenderness in joints
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Swollen joints
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Joint pain and stiffness
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Limited mobility

Confirmation Tests

- Blood test
- Joint fluid test
- X-rays
- Ultrasound

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