Facts About Gout (Including A Surprise Benefit)

'Time To Dispel The Myths Surrounding Gout'

By Definition –

Gout is a form of arthritis, caused by a higher than normal balance of uric acid in your body. There are many interesting facts about gout such as an increased incidence in younger men, that is later leveled out over both sexes by the time you reach 65.

However, there are also just as many myths including the idea that gout always attacks your big toe. In this article we set the record straight.

 ‘Too Much Fiction, Not Enough Facts’. The Facts About Gout And How Gout Affects You Are Essential To Know. You Cant Fight The Fire Of Gout Without Clear Knowledge Of The Facts About The Disease You Are Fighting.

Below we’ve put together a short list of the main facts about gout, followed by the facts that dispel certain ‘gout myths’, with references included below.

Hopefully this will provide a ten second answer for those that don’t have time to read our in detail analysis of ‘what is gout’ on the other page.

Facts About Gout (vs The Myths)

Myth –

“Gout is a rich mans disease and something we have got under control.”

Fact –

Gout affects more than 8million people in the US alone and, perhaps even more worryingly, this is growing all the time. Global figures in particular, show an alarming increase as people’s eating capabilities change.

Myth –

“Gout is all about diet.”

Fact –

It isn’t your diet that is solely responsible for your Gout, although it can be a contributory factor. It is the balance of uric acid in your body that is that ultimate reason why gout symptoms develop.

This acid balance can increase to dangerous levels for one of two reasons. Firstly because your body produces too much uric acid (partly in response to your diet as uric acid is a by-product of certain foods/ drinks). Secondly, because your kidneys can not get rid of the uric acid already produced (and certain factors will inhibit the effectiveness of your kidneys in excreting the acid).

Myth –

“Gout maybe painful, but it wont affect your overall health.”

Fact –

According to a US study in 2008, 9 out 10 gout sufferers also have at least one of the following – diabetes, kidney dysfunction, obesity, high cholesterol or coronary heart disease.

Myth –

“Gout is developed by poor eating and a change in diet can cure it.”

Fact –

Once Gout has developed it is never fully curable, although medications and a change of diet can dramatically reduce the likelihood of an attack and reduce the severity of one if it comes.

Myth –

“Gout only Affects Men. Women Are Immune To Gout.”

Fact –

Gout affects more men than women between the ages of 20 and 40. After the menopause in women however, the rate of women developing gout increases dramatically until by the age of around 60, when the levels of development are the same in both sexes.

Myth –

“If you stay away from alcohol, you’ll avoid gout attacks.”

Fact –

Avoiding alcohol will undoubtedly help in reducing the amount of uric acid that your body produces. However, many other foods and drinks also make equally substantial contributions. Sugary drinks for example, are actually no better than the Wrong, sugary drinks are just as bad.

Myth –

“Gout is painful, but it wont kill you.”

Fact –

Gout is painful, but unfortunately it CAN kill you. Or at least diseases developed because of poorly controlled gout can kill you. By this we refer to the development of kidney disease, heart attack and he potential for a stroke – the chances of each are all greatly increased if you don’t control your gout.

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Myth –

“Gout is only affected by diet, not medication.”

Fact –

Wrong. Some medications such as diuretics or low dose aspirin, can actually make gout

Medications can stop many of the symptoms gout and certain other medications can be used in a preventative nature. Details of the various medications available to you are found here.

Myth –

“Only Obese people get gout.”

Fact –

While obesity can be a factor in developing gout, there is certainly no guarantee that just because you are overweight, you will automatically develop gout.

Myth –

“Gout Always attacks The Big Toe”

Truth –

It doesn’t just attack the big toe. It is true that gout is most likely to be found in your big toe, possibly because urate crystals are sensitive to temperature and your big toe is one of the coolest joints, being furthest away from your heart.

Myth –

“Gout pain is not so bad….”

Truth –

Hmmm. Let’s ask a Gout sufferer shall we? Gout pain levels do vary from person to person and from attack to attack, but the average gout attack would be considered as a burning pain and one that is severe.

Myth –

“Gout pain only comes on in bursts or gout attacks”

Fact –

In some people it comes and goes in what is commonly known as ‘gout attacks’. However, in other people the gout pain can be much more consistent and long-lasting. Indeed in a few very unlucky people, living with gout pain is a permanent fixture.

Myth –

“Gout is the same as arthritis.”

Fact –

Gout is indeed a form of arthritis, but just as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are very different in source and treatment, so is gout or ‘gouty arthritis’ as it is sometimes known.

Myth –

“There is no such thing as chronic gout.”

Truth –

Chronic gout is defined as having more than two gout attacks per year. In reality however, this could be a lot more in some people, as it has been known to be a daily effect in a few unlucky individuals.

Myth –

“High uric acid levels mean gout.”

Truth –

Not necessarily. While high uric acid levels are a major contributor to gout, it’s the balance of uric acid in your body (and a predisposition to developing gout), that is most important.

Plenty of people produce high levels of uric acid, but either their kidneys excrete it quickly and efficiently or it simply doesn’t form the urate crystals needed to attack your joints.

Myth –

“Gout is diagnosed by a doctor who checks when the pain arrives.”

Truth –

Gout can be tested for by measuring the number of urate crystals in the joint fluid. There are actually several tests that can be used to confirm the existence of gout.

Myth –

“Gout attacks only happen at night.”

Fact –

Gout is more prevalent at night, but people can (and do) suffer attacks at any time of day or night.

Final Fact –

And finally to finish with a very interesting fact that does not have actually have a myth attached to it at all – the news that, according to Professor Nicola Dalbeth (writing for The Lancet)

“Gout is associated with reduced risk of neurological disorders such as Parkinsons’ disease, Alzheimer’s disease and both vascular and non-vascular dementia”.

It is thought that one of the reasons for this is that the uric acid that causes gout, could also act as an antioxidant and in doing so actually protect your brain cells from damage.

Don’t jump for joy yet though – firstly because some of the initial data that caused this link has now been expanded upon, calling in to question it’s initila validity and secondly – because high uric acid level also double your chances of heart disease (according to the Framingham Heart Study).

So, unfortunately, Gout is still a long way from anything you ever want to encounter.

The Final Word –

Hopefully, this quick look at some of the Facts About Gout has helped to shed further light on the disease away from some of the fluff that gets discussed.

For further information on how to diagnose and ultimately treat gout, please check out our other articles…

A Selection Of Other Articles On Gout...

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Further Gout-Related Reports...

References –

1. Yanyan Zhu Bhavik J. Pandya Hyon K. Choi (July 2011). Prevalence of gout and hyperuricemia in the US general population: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2007–2008. Arthritis And Rheumatology Journal.
2. Prof Nicola Dalbeth, FRACP, Prof Tony R Merriman, PhD, Prof Lisa K Stamp, FRACP (April 2016) Gout. The Lancet
3. The Framingham Heart Study. Details available at https://www.framinghamheartstudy.org/

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