Gout predominately affects middle age and older people, rarely occurring in young adults or children. Although it occurs in both sexes, gout has the highest incidence in the male gender. Women typically develop the disease at more advanced stages of life, particularly after menopause.
Gout is a disease that generates symptoms similar to those of rheumatoid arthritis. Common symptoms experienced by gout sufferers are pain in the joints and adjunct connective tissues, as well as swelling and inflammation of the lower limbs. Gout has a pronounced chronic character and its clinical manifestations tend to reoccur on a regular time basis. The joint pain induced by gout is perceived in recurrent attacks, which can last from a few hours to even a few days. As the disease progresses, the duration of gout attacks can exceed 7-10 days.
At first, gout attacks occur in the lower levels of the body, around the areas of the toes, heels and ankles. Around 75 percent of patients diagnosed with gout experience acute attacks in the region of the big toe. Gout attacks in the region of the big toe are referred to as podagra and they involve infection, swelling, pain and a sensation of burning. Acute gout attacks are very intense but they are usually ameliorate quickly. This type of attacks is more likely to occur during the night, generally lasting for 2-3 hours. Podagra can also occur due to acquired injuries or intense physical effort that involves the lower limbs.
Chronic gout attacks are usually long-repeating and they occur in multiple regions of the body. Apart from the region of the results, recurrent attacks also involve pain and inflammation of the knee, elbows, shoulders, wrists and fingers. Both types of gout attacks can generate low to moderate fever and sweating.
The frequency and intensity of gout attacks are strongly affected by obesity, physical inactivity, alcohol abuse and inappropriate diet. In order to prevent the occurrence of such attacks, gout sufferers are advised to limit the intake of seafood and meat in their diet. Foods like fresh fruits, raw vegetables, soy and low-fat dairy products are known to prevent the occurrence of episodic symptoms and to speed up the amelioration of already existing gout attacks. Gout sufferers are advised to divide their usual meals into smaller portions and to avoid eating right before going to bed.
In order to alleviate the symptoms generated by gout attacks, doctors usually prescribe medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs. Patients who experience severe gout attacks may be prescribed injections with corticosteroids, which provide rapid relief for joint pain and tenderness. Common medications that can prevent the occurrence of future gout attacks are probenecid, sulfinpyrazone and allopurinol.