Noth­ing funny about gout

Central Leader - - HEALTH& WELL-BEING -

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.

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