If you have gout, you understand that gout has a definite impact on your quality-of-life during an attack — life sucks. The pain can be unbearable. Researchers have looked at this question more quantitatively though and come up with some interesting findings.
As we know, gout is caused by uric acid crystalizing in our joints, which causes an immune response (if you don’t know this, see, Gout Basics). Even when you are not in the middle of a gout attack, if you have high uric acid levels, crystals are always forming and dissolving and not just in your joints, but all over your body. These crystals are seen as invaders by your immune system which causes it to respond. This causes your immune system to alway be in a heightened state of alert and it causes inflammation in your body which can cause many deadly diseases (see, Is Gout Dangerous). But the problems do not stop there…
As many as 70% of people with gout have detectable uric acid crystals in their joints between attacks and 25% have reported pain or discomfort between attacks. This reduces quality-of-life. Not only that, if you do not manage your uric acid levels correctly, these attacks will persist and cause more and more damage to your joints. This damage will increase the frequency and amount of pain/discomfort you feel between attacks, lowering quality-of-life further. If your gout is severe enough and you have suffered many attacks this damage will become permanent. Pain will become constant and you will have developed what is called, “advanced gout”. In this case, the best medical treatment can only limit further attacks and prevent addition damage from occurring. This is why it is so important to control uric acid levels as soon as possible and stop all further gout attacks.
The damage that gout causes is not limited to the body however. On average, people with gout miss 4.6 more days of work and have a 2% lower productivity level than those without gout. If you make $50,000 a year, that means gout takes $1000 out of your pocket every year. I don’t know about you, but I could used an extra $1000 a year – and that doesn’t even include the cost of emergency room visits and other medical care. This also does not cover the impact that gout attacks have on our families, which have to care for us and are otherwise impacted by our attacks.
The key is to stop the gout attacks. The only way to do that is to lower uric acid levels. Diet alone will almost never do it (see, The ‘Skinny’ on Gout Diets). For most of us, it’s medication along with a sensible, moderate and healthy diet.
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