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Diseases > Gout > Symptoms | Gout

Symptoms | Gout

People usually find out they have high uric acid levels after they have an attack of gout. The attack usually happens suddenly and often in the early hours of the morning. You may go to bed one night feeling fine, and wake up with a joint that feels like it’s on fire.

Like other types of inflammatory arthritis, the main target of the immune system attack is the joints. What makes gout different is that the immune system attacks the crystals that form in the joints. In most cases only one joint is affected at first. The big toe is the most common joint to be affected in people with gout. Over time, more than one joint can become affected. Other joints commonly affected by gout include the ankle or foot and the knees. When gout becomes severe the wrists, elbows and fingers can be involved.

Gout flares usually go away after about 7 to 10 days of treatment. It might be several months or years before another flare happens. But if you’ve had one attack of gout, chances are that you will eventually have others.

Gout can be a serious, long-term (chronic) condition. That means some people can still have mini-attacks where the joint just stays swollen. These “mini-attacks” aren’t as painful as the major ones but the joint still feels pretty sore. When uric acid levels stay high crystals continue to form causing the gout to “grumble” along. In the long run, this can cause damage to the joints and even destroy them.

When uric acid levels remain too high for a long time, it can start to crystallize in other tissues and form deposits of hardened uric acid. These are called “tophi” (pronounced Toe-Fie). Most often tophi develop over the elbows, on the backs of the hands, and in the finger pads.  They can also be found on the tendons behind your ankles or on the outer edges of the ears. Tophi can be painful. If left untreated, tophi can rupture or cause damage to nearby tendons and bone.

Work and Gout

An acute attack of gout can be very painful. When it strikes the foot or ankle it can make is difficult to walk or sleep. These attacks can keep you off work.  If you find that you’re having too many attacks and losing too many days of work then the best thing to do is talk to your doctor.  There are treatments that can reduce and eliminate your gout attacks.

Travel and Gout

Gout attacks can come when you’re at home or when you’re on vacation. The attacks can sometimes be triggered by dehydration and trauma. Whether you’re taking a plane flight or driving somewhere it’s best to stay well hydrated. You don’t want gout to ruin your holidays! If you’re known to have gout you should always have some medicine on hand just in case you have an acute attack while you’re away.  Talk to your doctor.

Sex and Gout

Gout shouldn’t directly affect intimacy. However, you probably won’t “feel in the mood” during an acute attack. Gout is also associated with high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.  These are also associated with vascular disease and erectile dysfunction.

Read more – Treatment of Gout