Gout is a disease that has become so prevalent in the Philippines that Filipinos tend to use it as butt of jokes. Whenever we see someone limp due to gout, we often joke around about the victim’s old age or his or her unhealthy eating habits.

However, gout can be more serious than we would like to think. According to the Center for Disease Control, gout may render people immobilized for days or even weeks. In some instances, gout may also be an indication of increased risk of kidney stones.

Gout is a form of rheumatic disease caused by deposits of uric acid crystals in tissues and fluids within the body. This is due to a process caused by an overproduction or under excretion of uric acid. Acute gout typically manifests itself as an acutely red, hot, and swollen joint with excruciating pain. These acute gouty flare-ups respond well to treatment with oral anti-inflammatory medicines and may be prevented with medication and diet changes. Recurrent bouts of acute gout can lead to a degenerative form of chronic arthritis called gouty arthritis.

In a paper published by the Philippine College of Physicians, researchers said that gout is the most prevalent form of arthritis among the Filipinos, affecting about 1.6 percent of the Philippine population.

Rheumatologists would often warn patients about gout as soon as they see a raised blood level of uric acid. Early on, potential victims are encouraged to take medication and take on a lifestyle change to prevent gout.

Among the measures most doctors advise patients to prevent gout include avoidance of alcohol and soft drinks to prevent uric acid to build up. Foods that have purines must also be removed from a patient’s diet. Purines are natural compounds that, when metabolised, get broken down and the end product is uric acid. Among the purine-rich foods that may contribute to attacks of gout are red meat such as beef, pork and lamb; as well as seafood and vegetables like asparagus, spinach, mushrooms, and cauliflower.

People with certain other conditions have an increased risk of developing gout: obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and vascular disease.

Doctors typically prescribe pain killers for people with gout. If gout persists, physicians have a variety of treatment options depending on the symptoms and severity of the disease.

Ultimately, the lasting remedy for gout is still choosing to adopt a healthy lifestyle. If one is overweight, you can prevent gout by trying to lose weight. This alone greatly lowers the uric acid level.