Gout is a medical condition primarily characterized by inflammation of the joints. The swelling mainly effects the joints of the hands and feet and is accompanied by intense pain. When the disease involves the largest toe, it is commonly referred to as podagra. The pain comes in phases known as attacks. These are usually caused by acute inflammatory arthritis. During an attack, the affected joint becomes red, feels hot and swells to a great extent. In some cases, gout attacks on the feet are so chronic that they prevent people with the illness from walking. Attacks commonly occur during the night, when there is low body temperature. Gout is primarily caused by the presence of excess uric acid in the blood. In a bid to maintain balance in the system, the body transports crystals of uric acid that is not excreted to the joints. This move, however, does more harm than good because it is the onset of the inflammation. Excess uric acid in our bodies can occur as a result of our diet choices, underexcretion of uric acid or even as a result of a person’s genetics.
Gout’s prevalence across the United States and other Western countries has significantly increased over recent years. Currently, it effects an estimated two percent of the population in the Western world. When left untreated, a gout attack can last anywhere from six days to two weeks depending on its intensity. After this period, inflammation ceases, and the pain stops. However, the disease can be aggravated by eating certain foods such as meat.