Nothing funny about gout
Tomorrow is Gout Awareness Day and Arthritis New Zealand wants Kiwis to have a better understanding of this chronic and pain arthritis condition.
‘‘Gout is neither shameful nor funny,’’ chief executive of Arthritis New Zealand Sandra Kirby says. ‘‘ And yet these reactions are not uncommon when people live with gout.
‘‘We endeavoured to get someone to let us tell their story. A 30-year-old Pacific male was prepared to talk with us – but on the condition he remained unidentified. He told us that he was ashamed and embarrassed that he had gout,’’ Kirby says.
This man was diagnosed six years ago, which doesn’t fit the stereotype of a fat, old rich man who has drunk too much port. For him, like many of the nearly 120,000 people living with gout, it is a family affair. In his family, his mother, father and a sister all have gout.
For him. like many others, gout wasn’t his first diagnosis. His foot pain was initially treated as an injury and it took several X-rays and assessments by doctors before his family GP came up with the correct diagnosis.
Gout takes a toll, as this man says in his own words. ‘‘ Gout is having a huge impact on my life and work. I am a tradesman which is a relatively active job. The gout usually affects my feet and ankles but has at times flared up in my hands. When it is in my feet I can’t walk. I obviously need my hands in my job! I have had to take weeks off work at a time, meaning less or no income. It is like a vicious cycle as to help or get rid of the gout I need to get fit and exercise but can’t do this when I can barely walk. It is a very depressing condition, when at its worst, I feel useless and it is killing my life.’’
Fortunately gout can be effectively treated – medication, diet and exercise all play a part. Early diagnosis and treatment is really important.