While gout has long been believed to be more associated with males, a growing number of women are becoming all too familiar with this diagnosis. In fact, over 8 million Americans have experienced gout, and while it remains more common for males, rates in females have started to rise–especially in the postmenopausal years. Therefore, it’s important for women to educate themselves about gout.
So, you may be asking yourself, “What exactly IS gout?” Gout is a form of arthritis resulting from increased levels of uric acid in the blood when the kidneys are unable to get rid of the excess. This extra uric acid crystallizes and is left in a joint — usually the big toe joint. Why? Because the crystallized uric acid wants a cool place to settle, and because the toe is the furthest from your body’s center, it’s the coolest location to hang out. When uric acid starts to build up inside your joint, white blood cells go on the defensive, unleashing chemicals that cause swelling, redness, and intense pain.
This is known as an acute attack of gout and can last up to ten days. However, failure to treat the causes can have these attacks returning time and time again. Leading to permanent damage in the joint.
What women need to know about gout —
- Gout is anything but subtle. Because gout presents as a single sore, puffed up, flushed joint, you will know something is wrong right away. Keep in mind, while gout usually occurs in the joint of the big toe, it can also appear in other joints like knees or ankles.
- Don’t take aspirin to curb your pain. Taking an aspirin during an acute attack of gout could make your symptoms worse. Instead, try taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory that includes naproxen or ibuprofen.
- Dehydration can trigger an attack. Therefore, certain foods and drinks; like cured meats, overly salty fare, or alcohol, can lead to trouble. But beware, simply staying hydrated isn’t enough to keep gout at bay once it has reared its head. You will also need to avoid food and beverages that are high in purines because the body converts these to uric acid. And you could also need medications to manage the symptoms.
- You may need to seek the help of a specialist. At Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle we diagnose gout by asking about family and personal medical history, examining the affected joint, and occasionally running special lab tests and x-rays. We then help our patients devise a plan to prevent and treat future attacks. We work with them to normalize uric acid levels and sometimes prescribe medications or injections to treat the pain, inflammation and swelling.
When you have foot or ankle problems – you don’t want just anyone. Call on the friendly, experienced foot doctors at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle. We specialize in treating foot and ankle pain of all varieties.