Gout shows its presence known often without any warning. It also happens most often at the middle of the night. Gout is characterized by an onset of an intense pain in a joint, most often the big toe. With prompt treatment, the pain and inflammation of gout disappear after a few days, but they may recur at any time. A period free of pain is not indicative of a cure unless blood uric acid levels are reduced and attacks do not recur. Chronic gout often begins after years of crystalline deposits forming around certain joints and in cartilage, for instance on the ear. In the elderly, gout manifests itself less typically, affecting many joints simultaneously, even those that are not commonly affected.
Nine out of 10 sufferers are middle-aged men, and about half of them have a hereditary predisposition to the ailment.
Severe pain in a joint recurs or lasts more than a few days, especially if the pain is accompanied by chills or fever; you may be experiencing the early signs of rheumatoid arthritis.
If you suspect that you have gout, you should consult a physician early. Left untreated, uric acid deposits (the underlying problem for gout) can eventually cause irreversible damage to the kidneys and other tissues.
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