Gout is an extremely painful swelling in the big toe, heel or instep of the foot. It is caused by deposits of sodium monourate into the affected areas,due to an increase of uric acids in the blood.
The exact cause of the uric acid increase is not known but it is known to be hereditary and is also more commonly associated with individuals leading poor lifestyles (inadequate exercise and over indulgence in fatty rich foods and alcohol).
An attack of gout usually occurs during sleep in the early hours of the morning. The affected area will be extremely painful, bright red and swollen and the skin will be extremely tense. The individual may also experience fevers and shivering. The pain increases in severity and then gradually fades, only to return the following night. The pattern repeats itself over the next week to ten days. During this period the skin is stretched so taught that the skin may peel.
Treatment for gout includes non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, painkillers and complete rest. Future attacks can be prevented by a change in lifestyle (reduction of alcohol and fatty foods and an increase in light exercise) or drugs specially formulated to inhibit the production of uric acids.
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