Gout is a type of arthritis that causes sudden, severe pain in the joints. Most commonly, the joint of the big toe is affected, but feet, ankles, knees, hands, and wrists can also be affected. Gout most often affects men, however, women’s chances of developing gout increase after menopause.
Causes and Symptoms
Gout is caused by uric acid crystals building up in the affected joints. While uric acid is produced naturally by the body and is present in certain foods, crystals can form when there is too much uric acid present or when the kidneys are not functioning properly, meaning the acid is not excreted during urination.
In addition to joint pain that lasts between 4 and 10 hours during each attack, gout also causes inflammation, redness, and swelling in the affected areas as well as limits range of motion.
Some seniors are at higher risk for developing gout. While men often develop this condition between the ages of 30 and 50, women tend to get it after menopause. Other risk factors for gout include:
- A diet high in meats, seafood, and sugary drinks
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Chronic conditions, including hypertension, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart and kidney diseases
- Family history of gout
Because older adults are more likely to have other chronic medical conditions, they tend to get gout more often than younger adults do. Seniors may also experience increased disability as a result of gout, especially if they also have another form of arthritis.
If your senior loved one is experiencing sharp, stabbing joint pain, talk with his or her doctor. The physician can determine whether this pain is caused by gout and recommend treatment, which usually includes medication.
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