May 2015 is Gout Awareness month! Launched to coincide with Rheumatology 2015, it’s Arthritis Care UKs effort to raise awareness and understanding of gout in the UK.

 

Often ridiculed as a self-inflicted condition related to an overly-rich diet, gout is an extremely painful metabolic condition that can cause kidney damage, joint destruction and bone erosion if not treated correctly.

 

What is Gout?

 

There is a lot of myth and confusion surrounding gout, which often means it’s not taken seriously. Gout is actually the second most common form of arthritis, and affects one in 40 people in the UK. Cases of gout have risen by 30% since 1997, and continue to grow by 1.5% every year.

 

Gout develops when urate crystals form in and around the joints. Its most notable symptom is intense pain and swelling in one or more joints, and commonly affects the big toe, knees, elbows, wrists, ankles and fingers. In some cases, though, it can cause irreversible joint damage and disability.

 

Urate builds up for one of two reasons: either your body is producing too much, or it’s not being passed out in your urine (this may indicate kidney disease).

 

“Four fifths struggle with some kind of day-to-day activity when gout is at its worst; most commonly those related to mobility.”

Arthritis Care’s Gout Nation Report

 

 

Gout Awareness Month

 

Unfortunately, Arthritis Care’s Gout Nation Report has shown that gout sufferers are not being taken seriously. Almost 25% of respondents think that their health professional does not consider Gout to be a serious health problem, while one in ten reported having to diagnose themselves using the internet. 9% of those surveyed by the report have had to take time off work, while 4% have had to give up all together. Over 33% also reported depression following an attack of gout.

 

“Half of people have discussed how gout develops and the different treatments with their GP, and one fifth feel they do not get enough information about medicines to make informed decisions.”

Arthritis Care’s Gout Nation Report

Gout is a serious and painful condition that has profound impacts on the lives of the sufferer and their family. It can be extremely debilitating and be a sign of other serious health problems, too.

 

So it’s time to start taking it seriously! That’s where Arthritis Care UK and Gout Awareness Month comes in. Gout Awareness Month will call on the rheumatology community to elevate the importance of gout and gout treatment across the UK.

 

“Raising the visibility of Gout through an awareness month will hopefully lead to more people understanding the seriousness of the disease and more patients seeking the help of their healthcare professional for treatment”

Mike Doherty, Professor of Rheumatology at Nottingham University

 

Want to know more about gout? Read the Arthritis Care factsheet, or download the full Gout Nation Report.