Yesterday a childhood friend of mine succumbed to kidney failure and heart complications which resulted from Gout Stage 4. He was diagnosed with gout just a month ago as told by his sister. The symptoms he felt in recent months, probably years according to his children, he blamed on arthritis. He would often complain of joint pains, sometimes even when he was asleep.
Pain attacks on his ankles, knees, wrist and elbow on different times, sometimes all at once, he pointed to arthritis. Stubborn as he was, he didn’t deem it necessary to go see a doctor. He became dependent on over-the-counter drugs for pain and occasional swelling; even when he had limited movement in the affected joint.
He developed very red or purplish skin around the affected joints; a few nodules (tophi) had appeared on some parts of his hands, elbows, and ears, but he just shrugged them off as part of his aging (he was 50).
When pain became so intense and he was having a lot of other discomfort from a malfunctioning kidney, he was brought to the hospital. But it was too late for treatments and lifestyle changes.
Gout can occasionally be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms of gout mimic several other conditions. To confirm a diagnosis of gout, a medical professional will take a sample of fluid from the inflamed joint and will view it under a microscope. If a patient has gout, urate crystals will be evident. The absence of crystals, however, does not completely rule out a diagnosis of gout.
Gout symptoms are most often felt in the large joint of the big toe, but can affect other joints such as: instep, ankle, heel, knee, Achilles tendon, wrist, finger, and elbow. The symptoms may include : warmth, pain, swelling, and extreme tenderness in joints…. BUT similar symptoms may be related to other medical conditions such as:
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) which affects more than one joint and generally affects both sides of the body, especially the hands and wrists. Most of the time, gout affects only one joint and is more common in the feet or toes.
- Osteoarthritis develops slowly and is ongoing, while a gout attack develops quickly and you may not have symptoms between attacks.
Medical professionals make use of four stages to classify the severity of gout in a patient. With proper management of lifestyle and medication, it’s possible to avoid the latter stages and the health consequences that go along with them… if diagnosed and managed before complications set in!
Stage 1 – Asymptomatic Hyperuricemia
Most people will have elevated levels of uric acid for many years before their first attack. Many people with elevated uric acid will never have an attack. The risk of an attack increases as the uric acid level increases.
Unfortunately, if ignored, this phase is frequently followed by continued attacks of gout. Despite a lack of symptoms, there may be ongoing inflammation. A low level of inflammation may be associated with risks for heart disease and stroke.
With proper medical attention and treatment, most gout patients will not progress to this advanced, disabling stage.