Common ailments

Gout

I have recently been suffering with a swollen red hot and extremely painful big toe joint on one foot. The pain is dreadful and I can hardly bear to walk on it. What could it be?

There are a number of possible causes for this but by far the likeliest is gout. Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that is caused by a build-up of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is a waste product produced by the body every day and which is usually excreted through the kidneys. The most common symptoms of gout are sudden and severe pain, along with redness and swelling.

Certain factors are believed to increase your risk of gout and these include obesity, high blood pressure, and consuming foods and drink that are high in purines.  High purine content is found in foods such as liver, anchovies, mackerel, sardines and yeast extract, such as ‘Marmite’. Beer and spirits also contain relatively high levels of purines. However, you can be at increased risk of gout simply through age and gender. Gout is more common as you get older and is more likely in men. Recent studies however have found that gout strongly runs in families, with increased risks for people with a first or second degree relative who suffers from gout.

I would recommend you visit your GP who will be able to examine your foot and make a more accurate diagnosis.  If they find that you are suffering from gout then they may prescribe medication to lower your levels of uric acid and perhaps recommend lifestyle changes which might help your condition.

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