30 Jan The Smartphone App for Gout Management
Anybody that suffers with gout will tell you how irritating it is. It’s an inflammatory arthritis (meaning your joints become inflamed) and it typically affects older men. Most commonly it affects the joint of your big toe (known as the metatarsophalangeal joint). Usually patients present to their family practitioner with a red and inflamed joint that is incredibly painful. Over the last 20 years cases of gout have risen sharply – and it is now estimated that almost 8.3 million Americans (equal to 4% of the population) have gout. Whilst treatment for gout is typically effective new techniques of preventing flare ups are always welcome. A recent study that uses an Australian smartphone app that could help patients prevent flare ups has come as welcome news to the community.
What causes gout?
Gout results from deposits of urate crystals in the joints. These urate crystals irritate the joint capsule and result in the red and inflamed picture we see in patients. The crystals are most likely to be deposited in the joint of the big toe – and as such this is the most common site of a flare up.
If you’ve had gout before your doctor probably recommended you stay away from certain foods and drinks. These include:
● Red meats such as beef. So no more steaks unfortunately!
● Sea food is also high in purines (that cause the urate crystals to form) and these should be avoided.
● Alcohol – unfortunately alcohol also causes gout attacks and if you are a big drinker your doc will ask you to cut down.
What treatments are available for gout?
The management or treatment of gout is split into two distinct areas; acute management and long term prevention. Acute treatments for the condition include:
● NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen or naproxen
● Steroids can be given in severe attacks
● Colchicine is often also given. It’s an alternative to NSAIDs and best used in those patients that can’t use NSAIDs for other health reasons.
However once the acute attack has subsided your doctor will prescribe medications and give you advice on how to avoid the condition. These include:
● Altering your diet (as described above)
● Losing weight (obesity is a risk factor for gout)
● Coming off certain medications like thiazide diuretics
● Prophylactic medication – usually something known as allopurinol.
Could A Smartphone App be added to the list of preventative treatments?
The new app is being trialed in Australia and helps people manage their gout. It allows patients to more easily track their medication and food intake – helping them make the right choices that will avoid flare ups. The researchers in Australia talked to Newsroom.unsw saying
“That is where the idea of the gout application came in. We are very excited about this app, as it is a new way of helping people with gout. It is a personalized addition to their treatment to help them manage their gout.”
The app is being piloted in Australia and could be on American shores shortly. However if you are suffering from unrelenting gout currently – getting in contact with a specialist clinic can help prevent relapses.