Sunday, July 19, 2009
About the Gout
After regular periodic mentions on this blog, many readers sometimes ask: What is the Gout and what does it look like? I have included the above psychedelic landscape of the joint above my right big toe, taken in the third week of my recent attack (after it migrated from my left knee), and refer you otherwise to the Wikipedia article, which begins:
"Gout is a disease hallmarked by elevated levels of uric acid in the bloodstream. In this condition, crystals of monosodium urate (MSU) or uric acid are deposited on the articular cartilage of joints, tendons, and surrounding tissues. It is marked by transient painful attacks of acute arthritis initiated by crystallization of urates within and about the joints and eventually leads to chronic gouty arthritis and the deposition of masses of urates in joints and other sites, creating tophi. Gout results from a combination of prolonged elevation of uric acid and overall acidity in the bloodstream. In isolation, neither elevated uric acid nor acidity is sufficient to cause gout. Historically, it was known as the "The Disease of Kings" or "Rich man's disease".
The Wikipedia entry also reproduces this excellent 1799 etching by British caricaturist James Gillray who was afflicted by the condition and died in mental hospital after an unsuccessful suicide attempt: