The stages of goutAccording to the Arthritis Foundation there are four stages of gout:
Stage One: AsymptomaticThere are no symptoms or pain in this stage, but blood uric acid levels are high and crystals are forming in the joint.
Stage Two: AcuteA gout attack happens when something (often a night of drinking) causes uric acid levels to spike or jostles the crystals that have formed in a joint, triggering the attack. The resulting inflammation and pain usually strike at night and intensify over the next eight to 12 hours. The symptoms ease after a few days and likely go away in a week to 10 days. Some people never experience a second attack, but an estimated 60% of people who have a gout attack will have a second one within a year. Overall, 84% may have another attack within three years.
Stage Three: IntervalGout is rarely a continuous problem - rather it tends to happen in relatively short-lived, very painful attacks. Interval gout is the stage during the time between attacks where there is no pain but low-level inflammation can still cause joint damage. Lifestyle changes and other treatment options are important at this stage to prevent future attacks or damage.
Stage Four: ChronicChronic gout develops in people whose uric acid levels remain high over a number of years. Attacks become more frequent and the pain may not go away.
What causes uric acid crystals to build-up?Uric acid is created and released into the blood during the breakdown of a substance in food called purines. Normally, the uric acid is filtered out of the blood through the kidneys and passes out of the body through urine. Higher than normal levels of uric acid in the blood may be caused by kidney damage or disease, making it hard for the kidneys to clear the uric acid. However, sometimes the buildup is caused by increased production of uric acid. Common causes of increased production include:
- Excess consumption of foods high in purines like steak, seafood, and organ meats
- Consumption of foods that encourage high uric acid levels, such as alcohol or sugary drinks
- Certain medications, such as diuretics, salicylate-containing medications (like aspirin), niacin, or levodopa
- Medical conditions such as high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, Kelley-Seegmiller syndrome or Lesch-Nyhan syndrome
Learn more about gout in this first-hand account of Living with Gout.
Early detection for better quality of lifeGout is a form of arthritis that often benefits from lifestyle changes. Your primary care physician can help you develop a plan that helps reduce the likelihood of future gout attacks.
Schedule an appointment today.