One of my most memorable memories of my grandparents was how, at times, my grandfather would limp through the living room holding his breath with a pained look on his face saying “My Gout is acting up again.” My dear long-suffering grandmother would angrily reply, “that’s what you get for sneaking around in the refrigerator while I am asleep.”
Well, when I heard this, as a child’s mind would think, it was terrible that my grandpa sneaks around while grandma was asleep. It never occurred to me that “what” was in the refrigerator was the reason for his Gout and what Gout was, I had not a clue, but reasoned, if I also snuck around in the refrigerator, I would get “the Gout” as well. So I always asked if I could get something out of the refrigerator and felt safe and secure that I would not get “the Gout” as my beloved grandfather did.
After being in the workforce for 33 years, I noticed the joint near my big toe began to ache, and I reasoned that after wearing high heels on a daily basis had finally caught up with me and my feet were ruined. So I went shopping and found a comfortable pair of low heel shoes, but still at the end of the day, I could not wait to get home to soak my red, inflamed foot in a relaxing Epsom Salt solution. It seemed that the pain never ended and became more intense during the evening when I was not wearing shoes. In a week’s time, I thought I had finally remedied the problem and the swelling had subsided along with the throbbing and aching.
Then, one evening all the sudden, the same joint quickly swelled up and became intensely hot, tender, swollen, and the inflamed skin has a shiny cast to it and had started to peal; the pain just walking was excruciating. I knew it was time to go to my podiatrist to see what was wrong with my joint.
The next day, when the physician examined my agonizing joint, he had a suspicion I had Gout, but to be sure, he would have to perform a needle biopsy to extract a sample of the synovial fluid from my joint. When the results came back from the lab, I was informed that under the microscope sharp urate crystals, which have the appearance of tiny needles, had been accumulating in the joint which was causing my signs and symptoms of Gout.
I was shocked and remembered my grandfather complaining of Gout, but I was not exactly sure of what Gout was so my doctor explained to me that Gout can affect any joint in the body, and the risk increases with a family history of the condition. It is prevalent in males, but affects most women after menopause. A person who is overweight has a higher chance of getting Gout, as well as those who drink alcohol in excess and do not eat a well-balanced diet. Kidney stones can occur if the uric acids are allowed to accumulate in the kidneys. Those who have high blood pressure, thyroid disorders, leukemia or lymphoma also are susceptible to the disorder. Those who eat a large amount of food that contain purines, which include avocados, sardines, sweetbreads, liver, large amounts of red meat, shellfish, peas, lentils, beans, and a diet high in fructose rich foods or drinks.
I had to undergo further blood testing to determine if I had an underlying condition which actually caused the condition, which would result in alternate diagnoses. Luckily the results came back negative and I would be able to manage my Gout outbreaks with proper eating habits and when I do have an outbreak, management therapy should applied.
Drinking plenty of water along with three ounces of concentrated cherry juice, which contains natural anti-inflammatory properties, help the kidneys excrete uric acid from the system, limit the amount of alcohol and never drink beer, which can trigger or worsen an attack. I had to begin a medically approved lose weight regimen to slowly lose weight, because rapid weight loss could trigger further attacks. Watching for symptoms to appear is also essential to controlling Gout, so if an acute attack does occur, joint injury may not develop. Pain can be avoided by elevating the foot for pressure relief or undergoing blood flow stimulation therapy. If these self-help strategies do not help, then a steroid such as Prednisone may have to be incorporated into daily life to alleviate the swelling and pain.
Fortunately for me, since I have taken my doctors advice and followed his strict orders to stop my Gout outbreaks, I have lived Gout free for the past 3 years. I, for one, do not want to end up like my grandfather, who refused to make simple diet and lifestyle changes and suffered from a disorder that could have been controlled.