Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

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Gout is a kind of arthritis, which causes swelling and pain. It usually affects areas like your fingers, toes, knees and ankles, but can flare up in any joint in the body.

It’s a fairly common condition, that tends to affect men more than women, particularly men over the age of 30.

While there’s currently no cure for gout, there are a range of treatments that can provide relief from symptoms and help to prevent flare ups.

Since gout can easily be confused with infected joints and several other serious conditions that might require urgent treatment, it’s important to see a GP if you suspect you may have it.

Our doctors can examine the affected area, provide treatment advice and if necessary, prescription medication to help you tackle the problem and prevent future attacks.

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Gout in the foot

Gout: Symptoms

Gout affects the joints of your limbs and most commonly crops up in the toes, fingers, knees and ankles. You may have gout if you’re experiencing:

  • Intense pain in one or several joints
  • Swelling, heat and tenderness in the affected joint(s)
  • Inflammation and redness of the skin around the joint(s)

Attacks of gout tend to happen very quickly, with symptoms coming on within the space of a few hours.

Symptoms can last anywhere from a couple of days to upwards of a week and it’s common for sufferers to experience repeat attacks.

Gout: Timeline

Onset: 1-3 hours

Symptoms of gout will appear very quickly, causing pain, discomfort and inflammation.

Recovery: 7-10 days

Attacks of gout usually clear up within a week or so, but without proper treatment and changes to your diet and lifestyle - you may experience several attacks each year.

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Gout: Treatment

Gout is caused by a build-up of a substance called uric acid, which forms tiny crystals that make their way in between joints and lead to inflammation.

This build-up can be caused if your kidneys don’t properly filter uric acid or your diet is full of foods that contain a substance known as purine, including red meat and seafood.

Similarly, there is a link between high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity - so addressing these underlying conditions can often help to relieve or prevent gout attacks.

During an attack, resting and raising the affected area is recommended and applying an ice pack can often help to relieve the pain and swelling. However, don’t apply ice directly to your skin or use these for more than 20 minutes in one sitting.

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, like ibuprofen and aspirin, can help to reduce swelling and pain, while in more serious cases, corticosteroids may be prescribed.

Our GPs can discuss your symptoms, identify triggers for your gout and if necessary, prescribe the right kind of medication to relieve the problem and prevent further attacks.

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