Affinity Health Says Early Diagnosis is the Key to Effective Gout Treatment
Leading affordable medical insurance providers in SA, Affinity Health, discusses the signs of gout and the importance of early detection and treatment.
What is Gout?
Have you ever woken up with a sharp and burning pain in your big toe that feels like your foot is on fire? For many South Africans, this is what a gout attack feels is like.
Gout is a type of arthritis that causes swelling, discomfort, severe pain, and tenderness in the joints. It can affect joints in your body, especially those near the end of a limb, such as your hand, wrist, elbow, knee, ankle, or foot, but it usually begins in the big toe.1
Gout is commonly misunderstood as a disease that only targets obese people or those who consume excessive alcohol. This is only partially true. While drinking alcohol and eating a poor diet contribute to gout, the actual cause is your body’s ability to break down purines into uric acid.
Purines are substances that naturally occur in your body are also found in certain foods and beverages such as red meat, seafood, and sugary sodas and juices.
Purines are broken down by your liver into uric acid, then released into your bloodstream, filtered by your kidneys, and finally excreted through your urine.
However, if your body produces too much uric acid or can’t get rid of it properly, it results in the formation of small sharp crystals that collect in and around the joints.
Certain health conditions can increase one’s chances of suffering gout:
- Congestive heart failure
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Insulin resistance
- Metabolic syndrome
- Poor kidney function
- Using certain medications, such as diuretics (water pills)
Gout is most common in middle-aged or older people but it can also affect young adults and children. The signs and symptoms usually appear out of nowhere, often at night, and last three to 10 days. Gout symptoms may come and go, but there are ways to manage and prevent flares.
What Happens if Gout is left Untreated?
If you don’t treat gout, it can become chronic. Hard lumps called tophi can eventually develop in your joints and the skin and soft tissue surrounding them. These deposits can permanently damage your joints.
“If you suddenly experience pain or swelling in one or more of your joints, see your doctor immediately,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.
“Your health care provider may prescribe treatments designed to reduce either the pain and inflammation of individual attacks or the frequency of attacks. Traditional treatments include making dietary changes and taking certain medications.”
To ensure you have access to the best medical treatment, Affinity health offers its members an optional chronic medication booster, with cover for over 23 different chronic conditions.
This Benefit gives members access to primary healthcare services to assist members with managing chronic conditions such as gout. Members are required to register as a Chronic Member to access the Chronic Essential Booster.
About Affinity Health
Affinity Health aims to provide premier quality, affordable medical insurance to South Africans. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service when they are faced with injury or illness. We work to deliver innovative solutions that are simple, cost-effective, and proven, so our cover is structured to ensure that you get exactly what you need. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn