Sam Bauman: A look at gout in everyday life



The disease that was once called the Pain of Kings, due to the monarchs’ rich diet of meat and wine, causing purines, later became better known as “gout,” a form of arthritis.

It’s a painful condition usually affecting the joint of the big toe on one foot but can attack other sites. There are no advanced symptoms of an attack, and one may suffer it once in a lifetime or frequently.

The pain can be intense, so strong that the victim can’t bear a sheet over the foot. You go to bed feeling normal but wake up to severe pain, usually in the night.

It’s caused by excess uric acid in the blood and tissues. Uric acid is the waste product of the breakdown of purines, but it can also come from your diet.

I years ago suffered from gout. Nothing unusual in my diet but there it was, painful. I saw a doctor who drew a sample and pronounced it gout. I took naproxen pills, and the gout quickly eased and hasn’t returned for many years. I still have the naproxen vial from years ago, kept for any new attack.

Diet is only one factor. Why some people suffer gout and others don’t is unclear but has been increasing in recent years. More than 8 million Americans suffer from gout. The rise of conditions that go with gout such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and kidney disease and some medications used to treat these can have a bearing.

Normally uric acid dissolves in the blood, filters through the kidneys and is excessed as urine. When uric acid levels are high the kidneys don’t filter it well and it becomes microscopic urate crystals. These crystals look like shreds of glass under the microscope and feel that way in your joints, setting off an intense inflammation reaction.

Gout pain untreated typically lasts 5-10 days and gradually disappears. Gout can be triggered by excessive alcohol consumption, certain foods, surgery, severe illness or joint injury.

Lifestyle changes can help such as a balanced diet, regular exercise and weight loss. Quick relief involves the use of nonsteroids, antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), colchicine (Colcrys, Mitigare, corticosteroids). For extended prevention try urate-lowering medications.

If gout isn’t treated it may lead to swelling, stiffness and pain in one or more joints. It may help to avoid foods that have a high purine level, such as organ meats, liver, kidney and sweetbreads and seafood such as sardines or shellfish.

While gout can be very painful, quick treatment can reduce pain and future attacks.

(The Mayo Clinic Health Letter of April 2017 contains more gout information, some of which is used here.)

Interesting movie with one-piece body suit

Scarlett Johansson is the star of “Ghost in a Shell.” She appears with a dark wig but seems human, particularly when she appears in the tight-fitting body suit the shows little but is highly erotic.

Those in charge of her agency, Section 9, decide to make her a cyborg — a mechanical body with a human brain. She becomes the Major as the film unwinds after her body is rebuilt by dipping it in a tank of plastic. Here locals have a chance to see another remake of the Japanese manga comic book story.

Johansson, plus Michael Pitt, Takeshi Kitano, Pilou Asbæk and Peter Ferdinando along with Juliette Binoche (under used here) show up. Director is veteran Rupert Sanders.

Johansson was injured in a Section 9 fight with terrorists. Her body is so damaged that it was discarded and a new one was made of plastic for her brain.

There’s lots more to this movie with its computer-generated images. The backgrounds often are more interesting than the movie plot. If you go to see it, just let yourself be carried away by the visuals. Johansson is energetic and carries the movie along nicely, and that seamless body suit will offer interest when the plot sags.

Other movies showing include “Kong: Skull Island” with the skyscraper-size Kong the star. Also the sci-fi “Life,” rated” R for bloody scenes. And kids show is ”Bloody Boss,” safe for everyone. And the lovely “Beauty and the Beast” continues something for romantics.

Sam Bauman writes about senior affairs, among other things, for the Nevada Appeal.


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