What Are Gout & Uric Acid
Gout occurs from an overload of uric acid in the body. Hyperuricemia i.e. high plasma uric acid level is a hallmark of gout. Gout is a form of arthritis, and it's also known as gouty arthritis.
This overload of uric acid promotes the deposition of tiny urate crystals in the joints. Urate crystals cause inflammation in the joints, resulting in cell damage, swelling and pain.
Acute gout attack is an inflammatory process that can occur in any joint in the body but most commonly seen in big toe in the beginning followed by ankle and knee, causing sudden swelling and severe pain. Elbow and finger can be affected too.
Risk Factors For Gout & Hyperuricemia
- Family history
- Male aged over 40
- Heavy physical activities
- Excess high purine or protein rich food intake
- Drinking too much soft drinks or alcoholic beverages
Why Do People Develop Hyperuricemia
The production of uric acid is catalyzed by an enzyme, called xanthine oxidase, and most uric acid is excreted through the kidneys. Therefore, kidneys help the body to maintain the balance of uric acid.
Hyperuricemia can be caused by these factors:
- Overproduction of uric acid due to genetic disorder of purine metabolism.
- Increased production of uric acid resulted from eating foods that are high in purine.
- Decreased excretion due to the abnormality in renal uric acid handling.
Further urate crystals formation leads to joint deformation, aggravating pain and disability.
Ways To Deal With Hyperuricemia
To reduce plasma uric acid level, the approaches are either to reduce the production of uric acid or to enhance its excretion. Medications developed for gout employ either approach. Alternatively, natural compounds have been found to exert positive effects on uric acid as shown in clinical findings.
By sustaining decreased uric acid level, it is highly possible that the formed tophi deposit can be dissolved gradually over a period of time.