Gout is a form of arthritis that occurs due to inflammation in the joints. This condition is prevalent in both men and women. Though the symptoms of gout are related to the joints, this disease primarily occurs due to abnormalities in metabolism.
This is why it is important to be aware of the symptoms of gout and of how gout affects your other organs and general health. This article will tell you all about gout and its effect on metabolism and overall health.
What is Gout?
Gout is a metabolic disorder that manifests itself in the form of acute episodes of severe joint pain. It occurs as a result of the deposition of excess uric acid crystals in the joint tissues.
Gout typically involves the smaller joints in the legs and hands. If not treated properly, this disorder may progress and affect multiple joints resulting in a condition called polyarticular gout.
Women with polyarticular gout usually have severe pain in the smaller joints of the foot and fingers as well as the bigger joints such as the knees, elbows, ankles, and wrists.
The inflammation in the joints occurring in gout is linked to the high level of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is a natural by-product released into the blood during different metabolic processes occurring in the body. It is produced when a form of proteins called purines are broken down. 
The excess uric acid is converted into crystals that get deposited in different organs and tissues of the body. 
When these crystals are deposited in the joint tissues, it is called gout. The uric acid crystals deposited in the joints cause considerable damage to the tissues resulting in inflammation, pain, swelling, and intense redness. When the crystals accumulate in the kidney, the condition is called renal stones.
What are the symptoms of gout?
The most common symptom of gout is severe pain in the joints. This condition usually affects one joint like the big toe. The pain typically begins suddenly.
The other symptoms of gout are:
- Tophi, or the formation of nodules, beneath the skin surface
- Redness and swelling of the affected joints
- Increased temperature or warmth of the joint
The joint pain caused due to gout is often intense and unbearable indicating the severity of inflammation and damage. The affected joint may also become sensitive to touch due to which women complain of pain even when clothes or any object touches or simply brushes against the affected part. They may also experience severe pain while pulling a bedsheet over the affected joint. The pain is usually worse at night. 
The formation of tophi is another characteristic sign of gout. Tophi are hard nodules made of uric acid crystals that can accumulate under the skin. They are usually formed in the elbows or the cartilage of the upper ear.
The presence of a tophus suggests the disease has progressed considerably. The formation of tophi is also a sign that there is a substantially increased production of uric acid in the body. If left untreated, gout may lead to permanent damage to the joint resulting in the loss of movements.
Who is at risk of gout?
The risk of gout is high in women having a family history of this condition. Some other risk factors for gout include obesity, trauma to the joint, and severe dehydration. 
Metabolic abnormalities can be caused by the long term use of medications, such as diuretics, can also increase the uric acid levels resulting in gout.
Diuretics, also called water pills, are used for the treatment of kidney disorders and high blood pressure. These drugs may raise the levels of uric acid by promoting the elimination of water from the kidneys. As a result, the uric acid concentration in the blood increases, triggering the formation of crystals.  
Diagnosis of gout
Blood tests to measure the levels of uric acid and creatinine can help in the diagnosis of gout. X-rays of the affected joint can help rule out other common causes of inflammation in the joint.
In advanced cases, the doctor may recommend drawing a small amount of fluid from the affected joint using a needle. The fluid is examined for the presence of urate crystals to confirm the diagnosis of gout. 
What is the best treatment for gout?
Women with gout are usually prescribed medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain and inflammation. In some cases, women may need to use corticosteroids or anti-gout medicines like colchicine.
The application of ice packs can help to relieve pain and swelling in the joints.
However, these treatments may only temporarily relieve the symptoms of gout. Many people with gout need to adopt lifestyle changes. Losing weight and correcting underlying metabolic abnormalities can prevent future attacks of gout. 
Lifestyles tips to help prevent attacks of gout
- Limit the intake of alcohol and beverages containing carbohydrates in the form of fructose. Fructose can increase the levels of uric acid 
- Avoid the intake of foods rich in purines like red meat, seafood, and organ meats
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy weight 
- Increase the intake of vitamin C-rich foods like berries and melons
The pathogenesis, or development, of gout is not limited to just the bones and joints. Gout can affect a person’s general health and can increase the risk of kidney stones.
The treatment of gout should involve correcting abnormalities in the metabolism as well as relieving symptoms like joint pain. People should follow appropriate diets that control uric acid levels to prevent gout attacks and kidney stones.