How Is Gout Diagnosed?
Even doctor can find gout difficult to diagnose. This is usually the case because the symptoms of gout may be indistinct and often mimic other conditions. Although at some time during the course of gout, most people with gout will have hyperuricemia, but it may not be present during an acute gout attack. Besides, having hyperuricemia does not confirm one to have gout. In actual fact, most people with hyperuricemia do not develop the gout.
To confirm a diagnosis of gout, doctors will first have to test the synovial fluid found in the joint by using a needle to draw a sample of the fluid from a person’s inflamed joint. Under the microscope, the doctor will look for monosodium urate crystals in the fluid sample by placing it on a slide. If the person is diagnosed with gout, the doctor will almost always see crystals in the fluid sample obtained from the inflamed joint. Howere their absence does not completely rule out the diagnosis of gout. Doctors may also find it useful to examine joint or tophi deposits to diagnose gout.
Signs and Symptoms of Gout
The observable signs and symptoms of gout are:
- Attack of arthritis in only one joint, usually the toe, ankle, or knee
- Arthritis that develops in 1 day
- More than one attack of acute arthritis
- Painful joint that is swollen, red, and warm
- Presence of uric acid crystals in joint fluid
How Is Gout Treated?
Most people diagnosed with gout should be able to control their symptoms and live a normal live with the help of proper treatment. Gout can be treated with one or a combination of therapies. These gout treatments aims to relieve the pain associated with acute gout attacks, prevent future gout attacks, and avoid the formation of new tophi in the joints or in serious cases kidney stones in the kidney.
A common treatment for an acute attack of gout usually includes high doses of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) and injections of corticosteroid drugs into the affected joint. NSAID’s helps to diminish the inflammation caused by deposits of uric acid crystals at the joints. The NSAID’s most commonly prescribed by doctor for gout are indomethacin and naproxen. These drugs can be taken orally every day. Patients on the prescription usually will begin to improve within a few hours of the treatment, and subsequently the gout attacks will go away completely within a few days.
In certain cases, the doctor may consider using colchicines when NSAID’s fails to control the gout symptoms. Colchicines is most effective when taken within the first 12 hours of an acute attack of gout. Colchicine can be administered orally every hour until the gout symptoms subside, or they can inject by the doctor directly into a vein. The side effect of colchicines is that it might cause diarrhea when taken orally.
For some patients, the doctor may prescribe either NSAID’s or oral colchicine in small daily doses to prevent future attacks of gout. In some cases, the doctor may have to prescribe allopurinol (Zyloprim) and probenecid (Benemid), medicine used to treat hyperuricemia, if gout attacks continues and tophi develop even after the prescription of NSAID’s or colchicines.
What Can People With Gout Do To Stay Healthy?
- Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is very important. Avoid foods that are high in purines and drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Fluids can help to remove the excessive uric acid from the body.
- Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy body weight. Try to lose weight if you happen to be overweight.
- To help prevent future gout attacks, take the medicines prescribed by your doctor Follow the instructions carefully with regards to how much medicine to take and when to take it. Acute gout is best treated when symptoms first occur.
- Update your doctor with your medical history and provide information on all the medicines and vitamins you are currently taking. The doctor should be able to tell you if any of the medicine will increase your risk of hyperuricemia.
- Plan follow-up visits with your doctor to evaluate your progress.