Understanding The Risks And Pain Of Gout, The “Rich Man’s Disease”

2010-06-08 | |
Last updated: 2010-06-08
Gout Causing Sore Toe Joint

Known through the ages as the “the disease of kings” or “rich man’s disease”, Gout has been recognized for at least 4600 years when the Egyptians first wrote about it. Even in terms of modern medical understanding, the condition was described, as early as 1848, to be the result of excess uric acid in the blood. Given that this form of arthritis was causing considerable pain to the powerful and wealthy, it is not surprising that it received as much attention as it did.

What Is Gout or Gouty Arthritis?

Today however, Gout is well known to the upper and lower classes alike. Individuals from all segments of society suffer from the very painful condition that results from the formation of crystals in the tendons, joints and surrounding tissues, followed by an immune system reaction to these crystals. The sharp crystals most frequently form in the knuckle joint of the big toe, but are also known to form in the fingers, wrists, the heels and the knees.

The crystals that are deposited during a case of Gout are made of uric acid, a waste product in our bodily processes that is carried by the blood to the kidneys. Gout is caused by an accumulation of this uric acid in the body that results when the kidneys do not remove as much of the uric acid from the blood as they should. In most people, the symptoms of Gout arise and persist for one to two weeks before disappearing for a while; the definition of a flare-up.

How Many People Are Affected By Gout?

As one of the more painful forms of arthritis, Gout affects some 2.1 to 5.1 million Americans annually depending on the source of the information. In Britain and Canada, some 614 thousand and 555 thousand are affected respectively, although the British numbers may also be low.

Based on at least one study, the condition affects men 3 to 4 times more frequently than women though other studies have put the number has high as 7 to 9 times. As well, seniors have higher rates of Gout than younger individuals. African American men have double the risk of Caucasians to getting Gout and Polynesians are also at increased risk.

In addition to certain groups being at higher risk, research from the Mayo Clinic has found that the rate of the condition more than doubled between the late 1970s and the late 1990s and is still increasing.

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Category: Disease Information, Disease Prevention, General Health, Medical Research, Symptom Information

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