Due to festive feasting over the Lunar New Year holiday, the number of people who visited hospital emergency rooms reporting symptoms of acute gout has increased by 10 to 20 percent, doctors said yesterday, adding that more people in their 30s or 40s have experienced the condition in recent years.
A man in his 30s was taken to an emergency room on Friday last week with gout — a type of inflammatory arthritis that causes swelling, redness and severe joint pain — which he said hurt as much as being hit with a hammer.
The attending physician said the man had gout from his 20s, but did not control his diet or stick to a regular drug regime to control uric acid levels in his blood, so his uric acid level elevated rapidly after holiday feasting, causing the pain.
Taipei Medical University Hospital Immunology Department attending physician Chang Chi-ching (張棋禎) said joints most commonly affected by gout are the first metatarsophalangeal joints of big toes and the joints of the instep, ankle or heel, although some people might experience severe pain at other joints.
The majority of people with gout used to be in their 50s or 60s, but now more younger patients are getting treatment for the condition, he said, adding that because many people enjoy eating hot pot in winter, the number of people with gout has increased during the Lunar New Year holiday.
Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital nephrologist Yen Tzung-hai (顏宗海) said the age of onset for gout is gradually becoming younger, citing many cases in recent years of people in their 30s or 40s developing the condition.
Purines — an organic compound found in some foods that breaks down into uric acid — can dissolve in hot pot, so drinking the soup can trigger gout, he said.
“People with gout should avoid eating internal organs, seafood, broth and food high in purines,” Chang said, adding that they should also regularly take medication to control their blood uric acid level and get a blood test at least once every three months.
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