The Stages of Gout

Gout is a common form of arthritis. Across America, 1 in 25 adults deal with it at some point in their lives.

Gout affects far more men than women, and is especially common among middle-aged men who are overweight or obese. Obesity continues to be a serious health problems, which means gout is one of many common related health.

To prevent gout, it helps to know the stages of the condition. Over time, gout goes from a minor discomfort to a recurring cause of serious pain. If you know the early signs of gout, and how to prevent it from progressing, you can avoid this condition.

Gout results from many of the same risk factors as obesity, including a poor diet and lack of exercise. It causes episodes of swelling, redness, and joint pain. At first, this pain affects your big toe, but it can eventually spread, become more intense, and cause lasting joint damage.

Dr. Talal Khan and Personal Primary Care specialize in treating gout, with a focus on pain management, nutrition, and weight loss. The stages of gout are:

1. Hyperuricemia

The underlying cause of gout is a buildup of uric acid in your bloodstream. The first stage of gout is hyperuricemia, when your uric acid levels are higher than they should be. Often, you don’t know you have hyperuricemia because it doesn’t cause symptoms, though it may contribute to kidney stones.

2. Acute gout

Acute gout happens when excessive uric acid forms crystals in your joint, usually your big toe joint, causing sudden and severe pain, swelling, and redness. Acute gout is also known as a gout attack. Gout attacks start suddenly, often in the middle of the night. The pain may be at its worst for 6-24 hours after the beginning of the attack. Milder symptoms continue to linger for three to ten days afterward.

3. Intercritical gout

Intercritical gout happens when you don’t take steps to treat your gout after a gout attack. It’s the period between attacks, when you don’t have symptoms, but uric acid continues to build in your body, setting the scene for future, worse attacks. If you don’t have your uric acid levels under control, it’s often only a matter of time before your next gout attack. 

4. Chronic gout

Repeated gout attacks eventually lead to chronic gout, or tophaceous gout. Chronic gout can lead to permanent damage to your cartilage and joints. Though earlier stages of gout affect your big toe, chronic gout can also spread to anywhere in your body, including your fingers and elbows, At this point, attacks are more frequent and painful than ever.

Treatment for gout can prevent it from advancing. Dr. Khan would like your first experience of gout to be your very last. For a gout attack, he may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs, colchicine, or steroids to reduce your pain. He may also prescribe medications to reduce the level of uric acid in your blood. However, to fully control gout, it’s necessary to adjust your lifestyle, including by losing excess weight and following a healthy diet.

If you’re concerned about gout, make an appointment with Dr. Khan and Personal Primary Care. The sooner you get treatment, the easier it is to manage.

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