So what exactly is gout anyway? Just to give you an idea, gout is a type of arthritis that causes pain and swelling in various areas in your joints. The pain and tenderness are caused by the crystals of hardened uric acid that form around the joints. When purines are broken down they form a waste byproduct known as uric acid. This usually happens when you eat certain foods that build-up purines. Now, the thing about uric acid is that it is usually excreted through urine or bowel movement. But, if your uric acid builds up to a dangerous level, that’s when you may get gout.
The interesting thing about gout is that it’s pretty common. In fact, NHS Inform states in the UK, about 2 out of every 100 people have gout. What’s more, is that gout affects both men and women in equal distributions. However, gout seems to affect men at young ages compared to women. To be specific, gout is mostly found in men over 30 years old, while it is found in women above the average menopausal stage.
That said, you may already be showcasing some symptoms of gout without you even knowing. That’s why it’s very important to be aware of the symptoms, so you can start treatment early. In fact, early detection of gout may even help you prevent having worse symptoms, all in all. That’s why it’s very important to already know the signs to treat your gout symptoms at the earliest stage.
Of course, the main takeaway that we’d like you to have from this article is to determine the symptoms of gout. So what exactly are the symptoms of gout? There are 12 very common ones that you can look out for. Take a look at them below:
1. Increase in Uric Acid
At the first few stages of gout, you probably won’t feel anything because uric acid crystals that form in your joints haven’t grown much yet. However, you’ll start to feel them over time. Of course, we want to make sure that we get an early signal of gout, so the only way to do that is to check your uric acid levels. That’s the importance of having regular checkups. You’ll at least have an idea of what your uric acid levels are like. According to Arthritis.org, if your uric acid levels are high and there are some indications of uric acid crystals forming, then you have asymptomatic hyperuricemia which is a symptom of gout. One of the best ways to know whether or not your uric acid is high is to perform either a serum urate, serum uric acid test, or UA test.
2. Sudden Severe Joint Pain
According to WebMD, the very first thing that you may want to look out for is sudden severe joint pain. This joint pain especially comes out during the evening or midnight when you’re about the rest. The pain is extremely sharp and attacks out of nowhere. You’ll usually have pain around the feet, ankle, and knee area. You may also have pain in the elbow, wrist, and finger joints. The thing about this sort of midnight attack is that they come and go. Sometimes, you’ll probably think it’s just one of those joint pains from exertion, but it’s most likely already the starting point of acute gout. So, if you’re frequently having those joint attacks rather often, then it could be a sign of you having gout. The best thing to do is to visit your doctor to have a proper diagnosis and treatment.
3. Discoloration of Affected Area
Another symptom that WebMD states is the discoloration in the affected areas. If you’re starting to have gout, then there will be some areas in your joints that will already turn a certain shade of red or even purple. It’ll even be a bit warm when you touch it. And if you try to move it around, it will feel a little bit tender. This is a pretty common symptom that you can see in patients who are in the early stages of gout. The longer you wait, the redder the discoloration might get which may inevitably lead to a chronic state.
4. Shiny Skin Around Affected Area
Aside from just discoloration, you’ll also find the area surrounding the affected part shiny. The skin will be somewhat shiny and red or purple. This symptom is usually coupled with the previously mentioned symptom which is the discoloration of the affected joint. When that happens, you need to make sure that you go see a doctor regarding your condition.
5. Joint Stiffness
Have you ever tried to walk only to feel like your joints can’t move properly? This is another symptom of gout that you need to look out for. If you feel like you can’t walk properly from time to time– like your joints are so stiff that you can’t freely move them around, then you might be a candidate for gout. You need to check in with your physician if that’s the case. In the first stages, you probably won’t feel that much pain, but you’ll already feel the stiffness of your joints. You won’t be as flexible and as nimble as you usually are.
6. Severe Swelling
Swelling usually comes from inflammation due to the crystals that form in the joints. According to Mayo Clinic, inflammation and redness is a surefire sign of gout. You’ll know if it’s gout because the affected area and the area surrounding it will swell up, become tender, and even become red.
7. Limited Movement
One of the worst stages of gout is when you already can’t move that well. When you have gout, your joints won’t only become stiffer, but they may not even be able to move so much anymore without hurting. That’s why it’s rather common for you to see people who have gout symptoms limping or having trouble lifting up things. That’s because the pain of moving certain joints may actually be too excruciating to handle.
8. Spread of Pain to Other Joints
Normal joint paints are usually isolated. For example, if you have been having joint pains in your knees, it will usually just stay there until it eventually goes away. However, gout symptoms, that haven’t been treated, will eventually spread over to other joints, as well. So, if you noticed that the pain seems to be spreading to other joints, then it’s a telltale sign of gout. In fact, it’s also quite common for pain to reach other muscles such as the back/spine area and even the hips.
9. Spread of Pain to Other Body Parts Away from Joints
The scary thing about gout is that they don’t just affect the joints. After the uric acid crystals have built up in the joints, they will eventually spread away from the joints and into the other parts of the body. As mentioned above, pain may even reach the spine area and the hips. However, that isn’t the only place it may reach. It may even reach the legs, arms, fingers, toes, and up to the shoulders.
10. Leaking of Pus
When your gout reaches this level, then it’s already reached a pretty bad level. At this stage, it means that gout now has tophi– which is a type of hard lump that is filled with urate crystals. Once the urate crystals inside the tophi become inflamed, then you’ll notice pus-like liquid with hard white material coming out. The white, hard material is the urate crystals coming out. The danger of letting your gout reach this point is that the tophi can already cause some damage to your bones and cartilages. When that happens, you’ll notice that the joint pains will become more regular and daily.
11. Not Being Able to Take Weight
The thing about having gout is that over time, your joints won’t be able to take the weight of pretty much anything that you put on the affected area. Even as light as something as a blanket will make the affected area feel extremely tender. It’s already reached a pretty bad state when you can’t put a blanket or put on pants without feeling uncomfortable. The scary part of this symptom is that it will affect your everyday routines. You won’t be able to sleep properly, you won’t be able to dress properly, and you, most likely, won’t be able to go to work. It’s best that you already address the issue before you start having this symptom because it will put a damper on everything you do.
12. Getting Lumps in Random Places in Your Body
We’ve already mentioned that swelling is a symptom of high uric acid. You’ll expect to see large swelling in areas near the joints. Aside from just that, you’ll also notice that small, needle-sized lumps will show up as well. Not just in the joints but also around the joints and even on the rims of the ears. Just like swelling, these lumps are also due to the formation of uric acid crystals. With lumps, however, the needle-sized crystals are built-up uric acid that has formed in the blood already. They will also start to hurt when you touch them or move body parts associated with them.
Most people who have a family history of gout or eat foods that can cause uric acid to shoot up, then you’re most likely going to be a candidate for gout. In fact, there are also some other factors that can affect whether or not you’re going to have gout. Aside from family history and diet, candidates for gout are also shown to have a history of taking certain drugs often like aspirin, niacin, and water pills among others. People who have a history of drinking a lot (more than two beers a day) are also strong candidates for gout. Finally, those who drink a lot of soft drinks or are overweight are also prone to having gout.
While the diet and consumption of food and beverages can be controlled, we can’t control our family history. If it is in our genes to have gout, then you will definitely have a big chance of having gout. This doesn’t mean that nothing can be done though. In most cases, a lifestyle change can help cure or even prevent any occurrence of gout. As long as you are committed to getting rid of the condition, then something can definitely be done.
That’s where knowing the symptoms come in. When a doctor wants to diagnose you to check for gout, they’d usually take into consideration the results of certain examinations (such as a serum uric acid test), family history, and the severity of the symptoms you have. You see, the earlier you address the problem, then the sooner you can get rid of gout. The sooner you can do this, the easier it is to ease the condition.
That’s why you cannot just rely on the doctor to diagnose the symptoms for you. You need to already know the symptoms of gout, so you’ll know how to spot signs– especially if you have a diet that makes you prone to gout or if you have a family history.
If you are able to detect the early signs of gout, then you already know when you should go see a doctor or make a lifestyle change. These 12 symptoms are the most common ones that you can find. Although some of the symptoms may be signs for other illnesses or conditions, they at least give you some sort of cue that there is something you need to address. So, if you think you have gout, then you need to look back at these 12 symptoms to see if any of them apply to you.