Fat Men’s Health – Gout Causes and Treatment
In our Fat Men’s Health series, we’re looking at some of the most common conditions that fat men suffer from, what they’re like and how you can avoid them. Today we look at gout causes and treatment. We’re also chatting with MAN v FAT readers who have these conditions to get real experiences of what they’re like.
A warning: these articles contain images that show various conditions and if you feel that’s something that you’re likely to be disturbed by then go no further.
First up, we look at the condition of gout.
What causes gout?
According to the UK Gout Society, about 1 in 40 people suffer from gout. The condition is a form of arthritis and most noticeably impacts joints such as the big toe and the ankle. Some people do find they get gout in other joints, so if you notice a particular red, swelling in any joint then it’s certainly worth considering if it could be gout.
Gout is caused when the body has too much uric acid in the blood. This causes urate crystals to form around the joints and it is these crystals that are responsible for the agonising pain that many gout sufferers experience.
There are three main reasons that people develop gout. Firstly that the kidneys are not processing the uric acid and removing it in the urine for some reason. Secondly, that your diet is too high in purines (a protein found in various foods) or alcohol. Interestingly, for men who want to lose weight – it can also be caused by crash dieting and stress. Finally, some genetic conditions can be responsible for gout.
How do you know you’ve got it?
The most common symptoms for people with gout are a swelling of the joint (or joints) concerned and a sharp pain in the area. The pain that gout causes is quite unique and many say that it can be debilitating. You might also find that your joint seems to be red and that it may feel warm or even hot. These symptoms differ in severity for each person, but if any of this seems familiar then you should make an appointment with your GP in order to have it treated.
Gout is much more common for the following types of people:
- Anyone suffering from Congestive heart failure, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, poor kidney function
- People using diuretics
How is gout treated and can it be cured?
There is no cure for gout, but with treatment the condition can be managed and the number of flare ups (when the joints swell and become painful) can be limited, or even practically removed.
Treatment has three main steps:
1 – Manage the initial pain that gout causes. Your doctor will prescribe NSAIDs such as ibuprofen
2 – Make changes to your lifestyle to avoid things that trigger gout. These include changes to diet and lifestyle including losing weight, limiting alcohol and reducing foods that are purine-rich
3 – Stop tophi and kidney stones from forming. Tophi are small white-coloured deposits of uric acid under the skin. Kidney stones form when the high levels of uric acid are not lowered by making lifestyle changes.
What’s it like living with gout?
I first experienced gout when I was 21, I was working as a bin man and thought I had sprained my ankle initially, but the pain gradually built up and I realised it was much worse. I’d never felt such pain. My late Nan was the person who identified it was gout before I went to see a GP as she also had gout, it was uncommon in people my age but I was massively overweight. I also found out it’s hereditary and drew the jackpot in that both my late grandfather, nan, and gran had gout. Doctors told me it was mostly attributed to my genetics and weight, but the latter was the main cause.
I am now on a permanent medication called arripurinol which stops the build up of uric acid in the blood, and cochine for attacks to ease the inflammatory pain, although I find Naproxen works best for me. The pain is excruciating. There are some mothers who say gout is worse than childbirth. During a flare up, it hurts to be touched or moved, even a breeze or change in temperature can cause it to throb, sleeping with gout is like being 24 stone and pulling Margot Robbie, it’s not going to happen! I would say it’s the equivalent to having a strong tooth ache in the foot and saps you of energy leaving you feeling fatigued and stressed.
Having gout has been a motivation for me to lose weight. When I was 22 I lost 130lbs, and during the period I was lean, I rarely suffered with attacks and they didn’t impact my life like they do now, so it is a factor in my motivation to lose weight and be healthy. Three triggers for me are red meat, mushrooms and soy proteins so I have to be careful about any vegetarian products and not consume to much red meat. Any foods high in purines should be eaten in moderation and avoid eating them consistently.
It’s a frustrating disease and can knock a person’s momentum and motivation in their weightloss journey, my advice to anyone who suffers is drink plenty of water, get the right medication and try to keep your mind active and keep it goal-themed to keep you motivated.