Asians are among the many, who suffer from that painful affliction, which we lovingly call GOUT! Everyone who suffers from gout knows the pain all too well which can affect the toe, the ankle, the wrists, the knee or other joints and tissues, making it extremely painful and, in some cases, unbearable. Some people often go to the Emergency Room because of the intense pain!
Asians are one of the top ethnic groups to suffer from gout due to an "extravagant diet" of rich foods that includes animal fats, red meat, organ meats, poultry, fish, yeasts, and alcoholic beverages which are high in purines, the organic compound that breaks down into uric acid. The Southeast Asians were not exposed to this affliction for centuries until they adopted the Western diet and lifestyle over recent decades. Today, the disease is now common among the population and has formed into a genetic disposition.
The Mayo Clinic refers to the disease as a "complex form of arthritis."Gout can be attributed to not only eating a high amount of purine-rich foods but to other causes linked to illness, infection, side effects from pharmaceutical medicines, and a family history of the disease.
In the Asian community, gout usually attacks adults, who are 50 years-old and over but more medical clinics are noticing an upturn in younger people with the disease. Gout affects mostly men and postmenopausal women, who have low estrogen levels which may cause uric acid to rise. Estrogen is believed to help the kidneys process the uric acid, which may explain why older men with low levels of estrogen are susceptible to gout. In addition, Asian men and women, who are overweight, have high blood pressure, and have insulin resistance tend to have the disease.
Oh, the Pain!
The pain related to gout usually begins with the sudden inflammation of the big toe, making it difficult to walk in most cases. In severe cases, just gently rubbing a blanket or pulling on socks on the inflamed area hurts! It even takes a Herculean effort to change clothes!
When the pain begins, it steadily becomes worse if let untreated. Even with treatment, overcoming the pain can take several days to weeks for some people.
Some of the symptoms vary from person to person, but the first signs indicate sudden swelling of the joints or the following!
- A pinching or stabbing pain
- Sudden redness
- Inflammation of the joints
- A mild fever
For chronic sufferers, some have resorted to drugs to lower their uric acid, which means they will be taking it for the rest of their lives.
Your "Check Engine Light" is On, My Friend!
Whatever method a person uses to control or prevent gout from attacking, the condition of uric acid is a "check engine light" coming from the body itself. A gout attack is an extremely painful way of notifying the individual there is a problem in the body's metabolism and circulation.
Having gout means that an individual's overall health is in question and the person lacks a balanced diet and some form of exercise. If you are overweight, try to lose weight. If your diet is bad and filled with purine-rich foods, it's time to start omitting those foods, and eating healthy.
The Mayo Clinic recommends that sufferers limit the following:
- Meat, poultry, and fish
- Cut back on fats
- Foods with high fructose syrups
- Cut back or avoid alcohol
- Complex carbohydrates (whole grains, fruits and vegetables, legumes, etc.,)
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy products
- Drink lots of fluids, particularly water
Controlling the disease takes a lot of discipline for gout sufferers. The pain from this disease is enough for most people to exorcise caution with the foods they eat.
After every attack, a painful lesson is always learned.
I know too many people, who couldn't resist their favorite foods that would cause an attack, but went ahead and ate it anyway. Those are the ones, who call in sick the next day, and talk about the excruciating pain that left them crippled in their homes. Friends have told me how they had to crawl to get from one room to another. Even the strongest men I know admitted that they cried like babies trying to endure the pain.
These experiences may sound funny but to Asian sufferers, gout is NOT a laughing matter.