Whoever coined the old adage that “ignorance is bliss” clearly wasn’t thinking of gout.
Without proper knowledge of the disease, patients may suffer agonizing gout attacks in silence – harboring misconceptions about natural remedies and hiding their pain from loved ones out of embarrassment. Today, on Gout Awareness Day, advocates are working to change that.
Patients, their family and friends, and the general public would do well to recognize several basic facts about the disease:
Gout is all around you. Gout is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis, and it affects 8-9 million Americans. If you think you don’t know someone with gout, take another look around.
The pain is real. Excruciating gout attacks often begin in the big toe but also frequently occur in other joints in the body as well. People have compared the pain of a gout attack to “pitchforks stabbing at their joints” and described it as worse than being shot.
Shaming doesn’t help. A common myth is that all people with gout have failed to maintain a healthy lifestyle and consumed too much rich food or alcohol. But it’s simply not true. Also not true? The myth that only men or only older people develop gout. In reality, fit, young, healthy people – including women – can also develop gout. Perpetuating these myths has the effect of shaming patients into silence rather than encouraging them to seek treatment and support.
Patients aren’t the only ones hurting. While patients bear the pain of gout, the disease’s impact is far wider. Families, communities and workplaces are all affected when gout interrupts patients’ day-to-day lives.
Real diseases need real treatment. Gout patients’ belief that they caused their disease may lead them to also try and self-treat. But mythical home remedies like cherry juice and apple cider vinegar will not provide patients the relief they seek. Seeing a gout specialist is the best step forward.
Try, try again. As many as one in 10 patients may discover that standard gout treatment doesn’t work for them. They shouldn’t despair. Specialized treatment is also available for what’s known as uncontrolled gout.
Learn more about gout from the Alliance for Gout Awareness. And, on this Gout Awareness Day, join the effort to spread the facts, debunk the myths, and encourage patients to find the treatment and support they need.