Gout Guidelines Introduction
Gout guidelines give practical advice on those 3 main subjects, as described below. My guidelines are written to suit most gout sufferers and include links to forums and other support services where you can get personal guidance.
For practical purposes, those three subjects are all that matter. However, many gout sufferers and their carers want to understand the nature of gout better. Therefore, I also include some gout and uric acid reference pages. Gout reference pages describe the nature of gout, and they also cover other topics that cross the boundaries between symptoms, treatment, and diet.
What Is Gout?
The simple view is that gout is a painful, inflammatory form of arthritis (gouty arthritis) where swollen joints result from an immune response to uric acid crystals.
There are complicated processes involved where our bodies react to excess uric acid. This has led some people to suggest that gout is more a syndrome than a disease.
I explore and explain those scientific proposals in this gout reference section, and in the uric acid reference section. However, most gout sufferers are confused by many gout myths. Therefore, I find it easier to describe what gout is by explaining what it is not.
Do you want to know What is gout?
Stages Of Gout
Gout is a progressive disease. First, we notice painful gout flares in one joint. This spreads to other joints and gout attacks become more frequent. If we only treat acute gout and fail to control uric acid, then gout spreads to other tissues, as described in the tophi pages.
- Asymptomatic Hyperuricemia
- Hyperuricemia is uric acid of 7mg/dL or above. Many people have high uric acid without developing typical gout symptoms. Doctors are loathed to treat high uric acid without gout symptoms. However, you must get annual blood tests and examine joints for swellings because uric acid crystals can grow very slowly. Even if you do not get gout attacks, these crystals can still cause serious problems, so you should get any unusual swellings checked.
- Acute Gout
- Acute gout is a medical term that means gout attack or gout flare. It is the painful swelling most associated with gout. Although these terms are interchangeable, I tend to use acute gout in this section about understanding gout. I use gout flare in the Gout Symptoms section, and gout attack in the Gout Treatment section.
- Inter-critical Gout
- Inter-critical gout is the pain free period between gout attacks. You should not consider that gout is under control during these periods. Just because there is no gout attack, you can still have uric acid crystals growing slowly.
- Chronic Gout
- This refers to gout that has become established over many years. It is common, because gout can only ever be cured if it is secondary to another health condition or environmental factor, and that primary cause is removed. For most gout sufferers, high uric acid is genetic, therefore the best we can do is control uric acid. If we do not control uric acid, chronic gout will get worse, and will often lead to tophi, as I describe in the tophaceous gout pages in the Gout Symptoms guidelines.
Understanding Gout: Next Steps
I believe knowledge is power, and understanding gout will give you the power to fix it.
It is far easier to control gout if you follow a logical approach. Unfortunately, gout is seen by many people as an eating disorder. This leads to an unhealthy obsession with food that has little impact on gout management. The correct way to manage gout is to:
- Diagnose Gout Symptoms: Make sure you have a clear gout diagnosis. Ideally, this should include a personal assessment of likely causes of your gout which will help guide the best approach to…
- Personal Gout Treatment Plans: Work with your doctor to set a safe uric acid level target, and monitor progress, whilst providing temporary pain relief where required.
- Assess Personal Gout Diet Improvements: Assess existing diet to ensure it helps, not hinders, your Personal Gout Treatment Plan. If required, work with your doctor, and perhaps a nutritionist, to improve diet for gout and for general health. Please note that I refer to diet in its widest sense, including all food, drink, and lifestyle choices, including exercise.
You can get help with all aspects of understanding and managing gout in the gout forum.