Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis and is known to cause painful swelling and redness to the feet and the big toe, amongst other joints in the body. As a condition, it is principally caused by the excess production of uric acid in the body, which then builds up and gets deposited in the joints as crystals.
In the United States alone, it is estimated that more than 8 million people suffer from the condition, but it is not evenly distributed between the genders. It is nearly twice as common in men as in women, and as such, a lot of attention tends to be centered on the condition in men alone. However, many women are reportedly getting affected, and it is vital to equip yourself with the right information so that you reduce the risks of being a victim or learning about the best ways to manage the condition if you are already suffering from it.
Risk Factors of Gout in Women
Quite a number of factors may predispose women to gout. It is important to understand that the risk factors in men are not necessarily the same in women but the most important thing is that whatever the factors, the ultimate cause is always the production of excess uric acid, which becomes difficult to excrete from the body and ends up crystalizing at the joints.
Here are some of the risk factors:
Consumption of too much sugar
Somehow someway ladies have a tendency to like sugary stuff such as sweetened beverages, sweets, candies etc. This is not just one of the reasons why most ladies in America and Canada struggle with obesity, but it is also one of the predisposing factors to gout in women. Once the sugars are consumed, uric acid will be a byproduct of the metabolism of purines from the ingested sugars. When the levels of uric acid becomes excess in the blood stream, formation of sharp needle-like urate crystals ensues and this is what causes inflammation and pains once they get deposited on the joints.
Gout and age in women
It is not common to find younger women suffering from gout, especially prior to menopause. If it occurs in the younger ladies, then it may have been occasioned by other secondary health complications and as such, treatment is always very complicated. In general, there is a mean difference of seven years at the age when gout first appears in women and men.
Gout and drinking in women
Several studies have come to the conclusion that women who drink beer are at a greater risk of suffering from gout than men drinking the same amount of beer. It is still not very clear to the researchers how this is possible, but it is a fact that beer contains high levels of chemical purines, which do get broken down to form uric acid in the body. If you are a lady and you love the contents of the brown bottle, therefore, always have this in mind that you may be drinking your way to gout.
Gout and coexisting diseases and conditions in women
Diseases such as coronary artery disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and problems with the kidney and liver are common in both men and women, but as far as gout is concerned, they tend to be more predisposing in women than in men. At later ages, women tend to experience more pains in the limbs and joints and not the feet, as is always the case with men.
Signs and Symptoms of gout in women
Signs and symptoms in women are not any different from the signs and symptoms of the condition in men. But the problem is that since it is not as common in women as it is in men, misdiagnosis in women is rampant and the condition is usually detected after a while in women.
Here are some of the symptoms you should never ignore if you are a lady-:
- Sudden and severe pain at the joints. Normally occur early in the morning or in the middle of the night.
- Inflammation and redness/purplish appearance in the joints. The affected joints will appear swollen, tender and warm.
- Limited mobility at the joints.
- Lingering discomfort – once the pain is gone, the affected joints may have some lingering discomfort which may last for a few days or weeks.
How women can manage gout flares
When it comes to gout in women, it is not all bad news and just like any other condition, it can be managed so that you avoid all those painful flares. In addition to being faithful to your doctor’s prescription, here are other ways to manage the condition-:
Drink lots of water – this is a great prevention and management practice. Lots of water improves your kidney’s ability to remove wastes from the body, including excess uric acid in the body. With lots of water, crystallization will not be rampant and this will translate into fewer attacks.
Limit your intake of alcohol – alcohol has the potential of increasing your gout episodes because they are rich in purines. Be sure to take no more than one drink a day if you want to stay safe or manage the condition properly.
Do away with sweetened beverages – sugary beverages, especially those containing fructose should be completely avoided.
Eat gout-friendly diets – Be careful with the foods you eat and always ensure they are gout-friendly. This implies that you should limit your intake of foods such as organ meats and seafood which are known to increase the levels of uric acid in the body.
Exercise regularly and manage weight – Stay fit by exercising daily and watch your weight as well.