Greenville, S.C. (WSPA)– Around 8.3 million Americans have gout, according to a national health and nutrition survey.

Painful attacks in the joints characterize the condition.

As part of our “Ask the Expert” series, in partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis, 7NEWS Anchor Taylor Murray spoke with a Rheumatologist about the chronic yet treatable condition.

“Gout is simply just a collection of uric acid that causes inflammatory arthritis in the affected joint.”

Dr. Mona Idrees, Rheumatologist, Bon Secours St. Francis

Doctor Mona Idrees, a Rheumatologist, says gout attacks, or flares, almost always come on suddenly, at night.

“The most common joints to be involved are generally on the lower extremities– the toes, the ankle, however, as it gets more and more advanced, and the more uric acid…. it can go into your knees, hands,” said Dr. Idrees.

The pain is usually so intense that it’s impossible to ignore.

“Most patients will complain that they wake up all of a sudden, in the middle of the night, because their foot is excruciatingly painful. Where even the sheets touching their foot makes them scream in pain. It is excruciatingly painful,” said Dr. Idrees.

You may also notice redness and swelling on the affected joint which will usually be tender and warm to the touch.

Doctor Idrees says men are more at risk.

“It’s not unheard of in women, but definitely more common in men… basically men seem to have a higher uric acid burden than women,” said Dr. Idrees.

So, what exactly is uric acid?

“Uric acid is one of the most inflammatory substances that we can have in our bodies.”

Dr. Mona Idrees, Rheumatologist, Bon Secours St. Francis

Uric acid is commonly found in foods like beer, red meat, shellfish, and lentils.

A diet rich in these things can worsen gout.

“For somebody who has gout, controlling their diet is certainly, maybe, going to cut down their frequency of gout flares. But, it’s certainly not a treatment,” said Dr. Idrees.

Some people are genetically predisposed to gout, regardless of their diet, so the best treatment for gout, Dr. Idress says, is prescribed by your provider.

“We often treat this with uric acid-lowering medications,” said Dr. Idrees.

Gout flares can last days or weeks. It’s important to see your provider at the onset of the first symptom, so the pain can be treated quickly.

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