Gout is a form of arthritis that’s caused by excessive uric acid in the bloodstream. It is characterised by sudden attacks of severe pain and swelling in the joints. Commonly it affects the big toe.
“Men are nine times more prone to gout than women,” says Dr Ahmed Negm, Rheumatology Specialist and Senior Registrar at Dubai Hospital. “It is rare to find gout in children, unless there are genetic defects in the enzymes, which produce and eliminate uric acid. Middle-aged women are naturally protected by their hormones.”
Nevertheless, the stereotype that gout only affects men with rich diets is true to a point. Lifestyle choices can indeed affect your likelihood of developing gout. Dr Negm suggests following a healthy diet, which contains low-fat dairy products, as well as avoiding sodas and alcohol. He also suggests trying to avoid red meat if you’re suffering from the condition.
The rheumatology team at Dubai Hospital encounter people with gout on a daily basis. They follow international guidelines in the treatment and management of the condition. Their first aim is to stop the inflammation. “After initial control, the patient is provided with an appointment in the Rheumatology Early Arthritis Clinic within two weeks,” says Dr Negm.
“We examine the patient and identify other diseases. We then develop an individualised plan for long-term management, if needed, to prevent recurrence.
“The latest musculoskeletal ultrasound aids to diagnose gout are available at Dubai Hospital.
“Gout patients can also receive immediate bedside ultrasound examinations of their joints from experienced rheumatologists. This can confirm the diagnosis and may guide interventional aspiration or therapeutic injections as needed.”
The main point that Dr Negm wants to reinforce is that gout is treatable. “Gout can be considered as the only 100 per cent curable rheumatic disease, if the patient agrees to follow their treatment plan,” he says.