90% of the time, gout affects the large joint in the big toe. However, other joints have been known to be affected, like:
- Foot joints
The spine is almost never afflicted with gout.
Why these joints?
- It is thought that crystal formation is impeded by warmth. So, joints that are far away from the heart and are on cooler areas of the body tend to have a greater chance of crystal formation.
- Another theory is that these joints are already damaged by stress, and are therefore more likely to succumb to uric acid crystals.
What are the risk factors for gout?
- Genetic predisposition: Some people are just genetically predisposed to gout. Their body produces too much uric acid and their kidneys do not excrete it efficiently. About 20% of gout sufferers have a family history of gout.
- Diet: A diet rich in purines can contribute to gout. High purine foods are foods like red meat, organ meats, shellfish, and legumes.
- Weight: Being overweight can cause the joints undue stress, making them more susceptible to gout.
- Certain medications :There are some medications, like diuretics and aspirin, that may contribute to gout.
- High blood pressure a.k.a. hypertension :High blood pressure, or hypertension, may contribute to gout.
- Diabetes: Diabetes causes poor circulation, which can allow gout to set in.
- Alcoholism: Alcohol is high in purines, so overindulgence may cause gout.
Prevention and Treatment
If you have gout or if you have several risk factors for gout, try to eliminate as many risk factors as you can.
- Genetic predisposition: There is not much you can do about this, but it is good to be aware of this risk factor.
- Diet: Avoid purine-rich foods. Low fat dairy products, fruits (especially cherries), and most vegetables have been shown to alleviate gout.
- Weight: Talk to your health practitioner about a weight loss programs. Crash diets and sudden weight loss can cause blood uric acid levels to spike, so healthy and gradual weight loss is preferred.
- Certain medications: Talk to your health practitioner about your medications. Do not stop taking medications without the permission of your health practitioner.
- High blood pressure a.k.a. hypertension: Try to alleviate your high blood pressure. Follow a low-sodium diet and any other recommendations given to you by your health practitioner.
- Diabetes: Make sure to get enough exercise to keep blood moving. Eating garlic may also help enhance circulation.
- Alcoholism: Avoid alcohol.
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