Gout is a type of arthritis that can affect anyone. It’s caused by a buildup of uric acid in your joints. An attack of gout will occur suddenly and most often occurs at the joint at the base of your large toe. Gout is on the increase, especially among seniors. It is the most common inflammatory arthritis that is seen in elderly people.
What are the symptoms of gout?
- Intense joint pain which usually comes on suddenly and at night.
- Most often it will affect the big toe but it can occur in any of your joints.
- Joints that are usually affected include the fingers, wrists, elbows and knees.
- Pain is most intense during the first 12 hours.
- The affected joints will become red, swollen, tender to the touch and will feel warm.
- As it progresses, movement of your joint may become limited.
Gout in the elderly, particularly those in retirement homes, may be brought on by a variety of factors. Diuretics are commonly used and can contribute to the onset. Other factors can include obesity, insulin resistance as well as chronic cardiac and renal disease. It is preventable and treatable.
Lifestyle and diet modifications can go a long way in preventing gout attacks. Limit your intake of alcohol and quit smoking. Cut excess salt and sugar from your diet. Meals should be small with more vegetables and less meat and seafood. Exercise is important in avoiding gout as excess weight and obesity are two of the main contributors.
How is gout treated?
- Take an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen as soon as possible. Check with your healthcare provider if you are taking other medications.
- Elevate the joint and apply ice packs.
- Drink plenty of clear fluids such as water or light broths.
See your doctor as soon as possible. There are various medications that can help to control gout. Be pro-active in your treatment and put into place lifestyle changes that can help you avoid future attacks.