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Are my problems due to high uric acid levels?

Q: I am an occasional drinker. Recently, I have observed itching lesions on the skin after drinking, which disappear after some days. There is pain at the hip joint especially at end of the coitus. I am fond of eating tomatoes. Is this phenomenon anyway connected to uric acid accumulation? What can be done to prevent this?

A:Itching following alcohol intake may only be incidental. If it happens every time that you take alcohol, then it is likely an allergic manifestation. Gout is a disease caused by high blood levels of uric acid, which is a natural part of the normal breaking down of certain food and body tissues. When persistently high, microscopic crystals of uric acid are formed in the joints causing inflammation leading to acute gouty arthritis or acute gout. It appears as an acute attack often coming on overnight. Within 12-24 hours there is severe pain and swelling in the affected joint and the skin over the joint may be red and shiny. Gout usually affects only one or two joints at a time - most often the feet and ankles. The ball of the big toe is the commonest site. Without treatment the attack subsides in a week or so and when patients first develop gout there may be intervals of many months or even years between attacks. As time goes by, these tend to become more frequent and more severe and eventually many joints may be involved, sometimes all at the same time. Gout thus occurs in individuals who have higher than normal levels of uric acid in blood. This may be due to genetic factors, obesity, high alcohol intake, high intake of food containing purines (red meat, fish, and vegetables like cauliflower, spinach, mushrooms, green peas) and some drugs used to treat high blood pressure etc. You can get your uric acid level tested and consult a doctor.

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