Thursday, September 4, 2008

Battling with Gout

Battling with gout has been my latest not-so fun pastime! My last post "Weight Loss Tips", might be useful to anyone with this condition as gout can be very debilitating which leads to loss of mobility, which has the knock on effect of, yep, you guessed it, weight gain!

In my own case, this has not been to pronounced, as my own weight stays fairly stable at a reasonable 79 kilos, which for my height (1.75 metres) and medium build is only just teetering over the border from ok to heavy. Also lucky for me a lot of that weight is made up of muscle and not too much fat, as I am a pretty active person what with working on building sites and in gardens a few days a week as part of my off-line work.

That is of course until a particularly severe gout attack put a stop to that activity a couple of months ago that seriously affected my previously good health. When it attacks the gout symptoms that appear are swelling of the joints in the feet where the pain is excruciating and makes walking almost impossible, as every step taken is a fresh wave of pain. What made it worse was that the swelling and pain was in both feet, affecting several joints in the toes as well as the ankles. This made it almost impossible to walk on some days when the gout symptoms were at their worst.

What is Gout?

Battling with gout is synonymous with battling against a rise in the levels of uric acid in the bloodstream, as this is what triggers an attack of gout. The excess uric acid gravitates to the joints to neutralise, as joints and bones are alkaline. The acid forms crystals inside the joints between the moving parts which damages the soft synovial membrane and destroys the synovial fluid. The body sees these crystals as foreign bodies and triggers the immune response of flooding the area with histamines to counter the perceived attack. This is what causes the swelling and what also makes it so difficult to reduce as the immune response of course cannot repel the invaders.

After a period ot time, the body normalises and the uric acid levels return to normal. When that happens, the uric acid still present in the bloodstream (and yes, it does need to be there) flushes out the crystals from the affected joints. When this happens, a secondary milder gout attack can occur as the body's immune response goes into action once again and causes more swelling. This is usually short lived and the body soon returns to normal.

Ok, now I'm over it but have really been left in a bad way because of it. Being forced to remain fairly immobile for over 8 weeks has weakened my muscles and stiffened all my joints so its taking me a while to get back into my routine of walking the dogs every day and getting back into the physical work I need to do.

Not much fun, but necessary if I want to make sure that I don't start putting on weight that will be hard to shift again. Well, I found a good weight loss tips info page online that is useful and worth a read through. Other than that, after reading about it, I guess the most important thing is to do something about it, which means getting off my backside and moving my aging carcass some more!

We'll see how things pan out...

Terry Didcott
My Health Today

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