Family Medicine

This month family physician health condition


What is Gout?

Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis which usually arises due to a buildup of uric acid.

This buildup of uric acid usually affects the feet, particularly the big toe. A person with gout usually present with a sudden onset of sharp type pain and within a few hours the joint becomes swollen, red and painful.

What causes gout

Purines are chemicals that are present in our body tissues and are also found in variety of foods. Uric acid is a byproduct of purine and the buildup of uric acid leads to a gout attack.

Treating a gout attack

If you have a gout attack you should visit your family physician and seek medical treatment.

Your primary care physician would take a detailed medical history, perform a medical examination and may also send laboratory investigations to help confirm the diagnosis.

In general principle the first line of treatment for gout attack includes non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). For patients who have allergy or contraindication to this medicine another drug called colchicine maybe prescribed.

Preventing gout attack

A purine restricted diet is an important first step in preventing gout. This includes limiting red meat, seafood and alcohol consumption.

A high fructose diet which are commonly found in soft drinks is also a major contributing factor to the buildup of uric acid.

Staying well hydrated by drinking water, eating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low fat diary and lentils are benefitial in preventing gout attack.

Your family physician may also check your uric acid levels and if the levels are high a medicine called allupurinol may be prescribed to help lower the uric acid levels.

Did you know?

  • The word “gout” was first used by Randolphus of Bocking back in 1200AD and it arises from the Latin word gutta, which means “a drop”.
  • In 1683, Thomas Sydenham also known as “English Hippocrates” described the condition mainly affected older males and tend to occur during the early hours of the morning.
  • In 1848, Alfred Baring Garrod an English physician identified that gout is caused by excess of uric acid in the blood.

Authors note

Dr Veerachai Sachdev is a family physician with an interest in health prevention and promotion. This month I have written about “gout”, a common health condition seen by family care physicians around the world.

“Podagra” or inflammation of the great big toe. The above cartoon is an illustration by James Gillray back in 1799 portay the pain experienced by the artist’s gout as a demon or dragon.


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