The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) say that gout is a form of arthritis found most commonly in men, beginning between 40 and 50 years old. It is a (very freaking) painful condition that occurs when uric acid is deposited as needle-like crystals in the joints and/or soft tissues. In the joints, these uric acid crystals cause inflammatory arthritis, which in turn leads to swelling, redness, heat, pain, and stiffness in the joints.
In many people, gout initially affects the joints of the big toe (a condition called podagra). But many other joints and areas around the joints can be affected in addition to or instead of the big toe. These include the insteps (me), ankles, heels, knees, wrists, fingers, and elbows. Uric acid crystals can also collect in the kidneys and cause kidney stones.
Uric acid is a substance that results from the breakdown of purines. A normal part of all human tissue, purines are found in many foods. Normally, uric acid is dissolved in the blood and passed through the kidneys into the urine, where it is eliminated.
If there is an increase in the production of uric acid or if the kidneys do not eliminate enough uric acid from the body, levels of it build up in the blood ((a condition called hyperuricemia) Welcome to my world). Hyperuricemia also may result when a person eats too many high-purine foods, such as liver, dried beans and peas, anchovies, and gravies. Hyperuricemia is not a disease, and by itself it is not dangerous. However, if excess uric acid crystals form as a result of hyperuricemia, gout can develop. The crystals form and accumulate in the joint, causing inflammation and a hell of a lot of PAIN!
I have what they call acute gout, or acute gouty arthritis – In this stage, hyperuricemia has caused the deposit of uric acid crystals in joint spaces. This leads to a sudden onset of intense pain and swelling in the joints, which also may be warm and very tender. An acute attack commonly occurs at night and can be triggered by stressful events, alcohol or drugs, or the presence of another illness. Attacks usually subside within 3 to 10 days, even without treatment, and the next attack may not occur for months or even years. Over time, however, attacks can last longer and occur more frequently. Oh, yippy, freakin’, skippy!
I woke up last night at 0300 in intense pain. I had gone to sleep an hour before. When this happened the first time a few years ago I went to see my doctor and she told me to stop drinking soda and beer, eating rich food and shellfish. Well, I pointed out to her that I am severely allergic to shellfish. I also told her that whatever it takes to make this never happen again was something I would do. So I have not had a single soda in about five years and I no longer go to Italian restaurants. The other things I’m not suppose to eat anymore are anchovies, asparagus, beef kidneys, brains, dried beans and peas, game meats, gravy, herring, liver, mackerel, mushrooms, sardines, scallops and sweetbreads.
So to whoever may be reading this, my hope for you is that you never have to experience this.
Most of the information contained herein was stolen directly from the NIAMS website.