Have you ever gotten a mysterious sprained ankle that you cannot recall having twisted it recently? Or have you suffered from a sudden and sharp pain in the joints that seemed to have happened without any rhyme or reason?

A local 46-year-old leader of a manufacturing team experienced that exact sensation of a sprain at the ankle in his mid-30s. Having initially dismissed it as a common ailment, he tolerated his limping for two days before he decided to consult a doctor after waiting for the swelling to subside which did not happen.

The doctor examined his ankle and concluded that he is suffering from gout.

In his then mid-30s, he was not alone in being someone suffering from gout at a younger age than commonly associated with. Gout, which is considered as a common type of arthritis, generally happens in people between 40 and 50.


What Is Gout?

Gout is caused when there is excess uric acid in the blood – this is known as hyperuricemia. Purines, an organic compound found in high concentrations in meats and meat products, seafood like scallops, herring and mackerel and beer, is broken down in the body to produce uric acid.

Normally, the acid is dissolved in the blood and extracted by the kidneys and removed through urine. However, when the uric acid level becomes excessive in the body from digesting too much purines or excreting too little uric acid, it forms needle-like crystals in the joints.

The pain experienced in gout attacks is likely to be acute and severe. The affected area will feel hot to the touch, marked by swelling and severe tenderness that applying very light pressure, such as from the weight of your blanket when you sleep, can be intolerable.

For most of the cases, the diet is not the lone culprit. It is false gout happens to someone simply because he/she consumes too much meat or seafood; there are many other factors that affect someone’s likelihood of developing gout, such as high blood pressure, obesity, and gout in family history. Generally, gout happens more in men than women, but post-menopausal women are at higher risks than other women.


More Young People Are Getting Gout

While there is no national statistics or registry the likes of cancer or diabetes for gout, a rheumatologist with a local private hospital said that the number of gout sufferers in their 30s is increasing. An associate consultant at Singapore’s National University Hospital Division of Rheumatology adds on that Singapore is experiencing similar patterns with the UK where more people are suffering from gout — a 30 per cent increase over the past 15 years.

The youngest gout patient that had been seen by the associate consultant? A 17-year-old boy who developed a refractory foot and pain in the ankle. No one expected those to be signs of gout since it is highly uncommon at such a young age.

As society becomes more wealthy, meat products getting more affordable and certain lifestyle activities like hitting the gym to gain muscle mass become more popular, consumption of high-protein sources and alcohol increase in younger people and coupling with a lack of hydration makes the developing of gout even likelier.


Go Check That Sprain

The tell-tale sign of gout is acute pain in the joint (or joints) and swelling that persist over a few days. You may often hear from someone about how he/she had that bad knee or ankle that he/she could not remember knocking it against any furniture; that could be a sign of a gout flare. Some gout sufferers may also be unable to accurately tell between soreness or early onset of a sprain from exercising and gout flares.

Since the crystals of uric acid (urate crystals) have a tendency to form in the joints, joint deformity becomes a possibility if treatment for gout is not undertaken quickly.  The inflammation, urate crystals deposits, the erosion of your bones and loss of cartilage can lead to a complete wearing off and damage of the joint.

Beyond being deposited at the joints, urate crystals can also become kidney stones. In the US, many gout patients also have chronic kidney diseases that may lead to kidney failure, according to the US National Kidney Foundation. It is, however, yet to be concluded if pre-existing kidney diseases do result in a high uric acid internal environment that leads to gout.


Gout Help

There are medications doctors can prescribe to assist in lowering high levels of uric acid and not create dependence on it or bring harm to your kidneys. One other way to deal with gout is to lose some weight and treat associative conditions such as hypertension.

With regards to the diet, many people think that staying away from high-purine foods like meat, meat products and alcohol will solve or gout. However, research has shown consistently that adhering to a strict diet does not adequately reduce uric acid to prevent gout and avoid gout-related complications without the use of medications.

Gout patients are able to eat all kinds of food, but he/she will need to do so in moderation and adequate hydration. Contrary to popular belief, soybeans and legumes can actually guard against gout.