Gouty arthritis or simply gout, was first identified by ancient Egyptians. Later, in the fifth century BC, Hippocrates referred to gout as “the unwalkable disease,” according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health
In ancient medicine, an excess in one of the four “humors” was thought to flow into the joints, causing the pain and inflammation of gouty arthritis, and it was typically associated with decadent foods and excess alcohol that only the wealthy could afford. It was for this reason that gout was sometimes called “the disease of kings.”
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These days, anyone can be affected by gouty arthritis, although the condition is more common in men, says WebMD
. It is caused by an excess of uric acid in the blood that can form hard crystals in the joints.
Although gout is no longer a disease of kings, it is more commonly found in people who are overweight, drink too much alcohol, or are exposed to chemicals called purines that are found in some meat and fish.
The onset of gout is usually marked by a sudden and severely painful attack accompanied by swelling and redness at the base of the big toe, explains Mayo Clinic
. The attack can give the sensation of the big toe being on fire, and the area can be so sensitive that in the middle of the night, even the weight of a light sheet can be unbearable.
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After the initial intensely painful attack, joint pain can linger for several days or weeks. As gouty arthritis progresses, it can result in a limited range of motion.
Mayo Clinic recommends seeing a physician as quickly as possible if you suspect you have gout. A doctor will likely run a series of tests to correctly diagnose the condition.
Limiting intake of alcohol, especially beer, red meat, organ meat, and seafood can help reduce the incidence of gout attacks. Your physician may also prescribe drugs that either block excess uric acid production or encourage its quick removal from the body.
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