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Gout: What it is and How to Treat It

As a nurse, you will care for patients with a wide range of health conditions and illnesses. From cases requiring urgent treatment due to injuries suffered in accidents to those living with chronic issues that impact their way of life, you will be responsible for providing care for various ailments. Understanding these conditions is essential in helping you play your role as a primary care provider for your patients and ensure positive outcomes.

One such condition that’s essential for you to understand is gout. While it is a form of arthritis, gout attacks can cause immense pain to those suffering from it. Understanding exactly what it is, the symptoms of gout, and how to treat it can prepare you to help patients dealing with this disease.

Today’s post will be a quick guide to help you understand what you need to know about gout.

What is Gout?

Gout is an inflammatory disease, a form of arthritis that causes a lot of pain. Arthritis is the cover-all name given to various joint diseases and conditions that cause joint pain. Gout is a particularly painful form of arthritis that causes swelling in one or several joints. While typically known to affect the biggest toe on a person’s foot, gout can also occur in the hand, wrist, knee, elbow, ankle, foot, and knee. The painful outbursts of gout, also called gout attacks, and the swelling in joints are caused by a crystal called uric acid that’s present in your joints.

What are the Common Symptoms of Gout?

Technically, gout can affect virtually any joint in your body. However, it usually tends to impact joints closer to the end of your limbs, like your fingers, toes, ankles, and knees. Some of the symptoms and signs that someone is suffering from gout include:

  • Extreme pain in one or more joints
  • Affected joints feel tender and hot
  • Inflammation (swelling) in and around impacted joints
  • Shiny and red skin on the impacted joint

When a person with gout-affected joints experiences sudden and intense bursts of pain, it is called experiencing a gout attack. These attacks occur rapidly, and people with gout tend to experience them overnight. While a person may not experience any symptoms between gout attacks, the onset of one can last anywhere between seven and 14 days. Some people can experience gout attacks with greater frequency than others. Many people suffering from gout can even experience these attacks with a gap of several years between them. Gout attacks can occur repeatedly at the same joint or impact multiple joints.

Who is Most At-Risk of Developing Gout?

Gout is not a condition that happens due to viral or bacterial infections. Rather, it is a condition that can affect virtually anybody, regardless of age and sex. Men generally develop gout earlier and more often than women since men generally have higher uric acid levels in their bodies. For women, gout can develop after menopause. Some people are more prone to developing the joint condition than others, including:

  • Individuals facing obesity issues
  • Individuals with diabetes
  • Those with a family history of gout
  • Individuals suffering from kidney diseases
  • Individuals with high blood pressure
  • Those who suffer from congestive heart failure

Those who have a diet with a substantial amount of animal proteins, consume a lot of alcohol and are on diuretics are also likely to develop gout.

How to Manage Gout Attacks

When someone suffers through an episode, managing their symptoms is possible by:

  • Limiting stress on the affected joints
  • Applying ice to impacted joints
  • Elevating the affected joints
  • Drinking plenty of water and other fluids
  • Avoiding beverages and food with high sugar levels
  • Avoiding alcoholic beverages

What Causes a Person to Develop Gout?

Gout is caused by the presence of uric acid in and around joints. Uric acid is a compound your body makes as it breaks down a few chemicals called purines when digesting and processing food. Purine is found in certain types of food such as red meat, certain seafood, turkey, alcohol, sugary drinks and sweets. Typically, the uric acid your body creates passes through your kidneys and exits your body through urine.

There may come the point when your body produces too much uric acid or your kidneys cannot properly process and excrete it. High uric acid levels in the body can lead to crystals of uric acid forming and accumulating around your joints. These crystals are responsible for causing sharp and needle-prick-like pain. It is important to note that not everybody with high uric acid levels will develop gout.

How to Treat Gout & Manage Gout Attacks

Gout is not a curable disease, but it can be treated with the right combination of dietary changes, medicine, and lifestyle changes. Some of the medicines that may be prescribed to help control the symptoms include:

  • NSAIDs to minimize inflation and pain.
  • Colchicine can be a good medicine for pain relief.
  • Corticosteroids can also reduce inflation and relieve pain.

Preventing gout is a possibility through dietary and lifestyle changes, including:

  • Drinking a lot of water to improve kidney function
  • Regular exercise
  • Reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption
  • Reducing the amount of red meat in your diet
  • Avoiding shellfish
  • Reducing protein animal sources
  • Reducing or eliminating food and beverage with high sugar content

Final Thoughts

Gout is not a completely curable condition. However, delivering the right care, taking precautions, and making the right lifestyle and dietary changes can help treat the condition. Left untreated, gout can lead to permanent joint damage. It is also possible for people suffering from gout to develop cardiovascular issues, severe arthritis, and kidney stones, among other health issues.

As the primary point of contact for your patients and their families, you must also educate them about gout and how to manage it. Patient education can be critical to ensure more positive outcomes by offering them the guidance they need on time.

Of course, patient education goes hand-in-hand with your own. As a registered nurse, you must renew your certifications by completing an appropriate number of credit hours through nursing continuing education courses. With your hectic schedule, it can be challenging to manage that. Online nursing CEUs, like those offered at Fast CE For Less at https://fastceforless.com/ce-courses-for-nursing/ are the perfect solution for you. Affordable and convenient, these nursing continuing education courses can help you renew your certifications with ease and expand your skill set for a more successful career.

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