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The Consequences of Not Treating Gout

February 1, 2013 by Teresa.

Gout cannot be cured. If you have gout, the previous statement is disheartening. However, the good news is that the disease is highly treatable. A form of inflammatory arthritis, gout attacks are painful. Receiving a proper diagnosis in order to begin treating the disease as soon as possible is critical. Some people may develop more serious problems without proper management.

What does your future with gout look like?

- An attack, although painful and even debilitating will most likely begin to subside in a week or two, even without treatment.
- After the first attack, many people may not have another attack for a long period of time.
- Symptoms could eventually return after a period of months or even years.
- Left untreated, the risk of having more attacks is 62% during the first year and increases as time passes. By year three, the risk factor is as high as 84%.

What are the possible complications?

Besides a much higher risk of the return of painful symptoms, when gout is left untreated a person can also develop tophi. Hard nodular masses of uric acid crystals begin to form. A tophus can appear on a finger, toe, ankle, elbow joints, and even on the ears. Most often, numerous little lumps develop. Over time, some may grow to be much larger. Tophi occurs in about 50% of gout cases after 10 years and the risk increases to 72% after 20 years. However, these lumps tend to grow when gout is left untreated for a considerable length of time or if the treatment plan is not effectively controlling uric acid levels. Gout medications reduce uric acid levels making tophi less likely.

Treatment options

Although there is no cure for gout, pain relieving medications tend to reduce the discomfort of an attack within 12 to 48 hours. Over time, drugs that lower uric acid can actually suppress attacks as well as keep other complications from ever developing.

Lifestyle changes should also be an important part of a treatment plan. Losing weight if you are obese, avoiding alcohol and foods with high purine content as well as remaining committed to taking medication can help to ward off future attacks.

If you suspect that you have gout, see your doctor for a proper diagnosis. Putting off treatment can be a big mistake. Early intervention is the best way to avoid long-term complications.

Filed under: Gout Treatment and Prevention.

Tags: treating gout, inflammatory arthritis, diagnosis, treatment, symptoms, gout attacks, complications, tophi.

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