M42 — October 2012 — Gout
Intro: Gout — In old movies it was a disease of status reserved for royalty and the pampered rich. In today's reality, however, Gout has spread into the general population right along with our expanding waistlines. How do you head off this often excruciating condition? Here's Dennis Douda for the Mayo Clinic News Network.
"I want to get down 55-total pounds, and this is KROC AM 1340 our News Talk station."
Brent Ackerman loves feeling lighter on his feet and more energetic. The operations manager of KROC radio in Rochester, Minnesota also likes the fact his recent weight loss has greatly reduced the chance he will be limping around station studios in sandals again.
"I apologized to people, but said I have to do this or I can't even walk."
The sudden inflammation in Ackerman's big toe turned out to be a flare-up of Gout, an experience he describes as agonizing.
"Now, when I would sleep at night, I couldn't even have a bed sheet on my foot. It was that painful."
"So it's the most common inflammatory arthritis in men. It's much less common in women, but women catch up after menopause."
Mayo Clinic Rheumatologist Tim Bongartz says Gout strikes one to one and a half percent of Americans. It happens when excess uric acid forms crystals in the joints.
"It's like pouring laundry detergent into a cup of water. If you surpass a certain threshold, it will start forming clots."
"And then your immune system is, you know, trying to get rid of those crystals, mounting a very violent inflammatory response."
Dr. Bongartz says a spike in reported Gout cases is clearly tied to the obesity epidemic.
"About 50 percent of gout is attributable to the overweight."
The risks of developing Gout also increase with heavy consumption of fructose sweetened soft drinks, red meat, and alcohol.
"Alcohol is an important risk factor, especially beer. So, if you drink two or more beers per day your risk of getting gout approximately doubles."
Dr. Bongartz says a Gout diagnosis should be confirmed with a blood test. Other tests include looking at the joint fluid for the gout crystals. Medications are generally very effective when monitored by a doctor to make sure uric acid levels are kept in check.
For the Mayo Clinic News Network, I'm Dennis Douda.
Dr. Bongartz (BON gartz) says many patients with gout also have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, and some medications for those conditions are excellent at controlling Gout without additional treatments.
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