Dr. Izzat Ali Muhammad Khanjar, Consultant Rheumatologist at HMC
Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis, in which uric acid crystallizes in the joints but can be managed or even avoided by taking control of your health, according to experts from Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).
Dr. Izzat Ali Muhammad Khanjar, Consultant Rheumatologist at HMC urged people to reduce the consumption of red meat and artificial sweeteners and to completely refrain from alcohol to avoid painful gout attacks.
“Gout is characterized by recurring attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis that are caused by elevated levels of uric acid deposits in the joints,” he said. “It commonly affects men more than women but is also common in menopausal women,” he said. “Gout is also associated with obesity and it also affects people with metabolic syndromes.
“Gout attacks can be attributed to excessive intake of red meat, artificial sweeteners and artificial sugar substitutes, as well as alcohol. In addition, use of some drugs, including diuretics and aspirin, may increase the chances of developing gout.”
Dr. Izzat said that gout usually has two stages. Symptoms of the first stage include the occurrence of an acute attack with severe pain that may keep the patient awake at night as well as red and swollen joints, especially at the base of the big toe. The second stage is characterized by recurrent attacks of inflammatory arthritis, where several joints become affected such as the knee, ankle, hand and arms.
“Gout can be diagnosed by physical examination. To confirm the diagnosis, synovial fluid samples (taken from the fluid in the joints) are taken to be tested for the existence of uric acid crystals. The formation of uric acid deposits under the skin or in the ear lobe is a clear sign of gout,” Dr. Izzat said.
Dr. Izzat recommends treatments including patient education about reducing red meat consumption and ensuring intake of fluids, especially during the summer months. He also says anti-inflammatory topical ointments, pain relievers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications can help reduce discomfort.
But, Dr. Izzat says prevention and awareness is the best way forward for dealing with the painful effects of gout.
“Losing weight is essential in this regard, as obesity is a main factor in the increasing uric acid levels in blood,” Dr. Izzat said.