Beating Gout: A Sufferer’s Guide To Living Pain Free, by Victor Konshin
As someone who suffers from intermittent but severe gout attacks , it is perhaps unsurprising that I read a book I happened to find in the library while browsing there not too long ago. It is frequently my habit to read books about my various struggles in physical and mental health, and although I have not had any acute attacks of gout recently, my general troubles with my feet and the concern to keeping my gout from getting worse led me to read this book somewhat preemptively. It is likely that anyone else reading this book will do so for similar reasons, since this book offers little in the way of literary flair or narrative interest apart from seeking to provide guidance on how to manage gout and its related conditions. The fact that the book is written by a gout sufferer gives a certain edge to the author’s rather sharp criticism of many in the medical community who are simply unequipped to deal well with this disease and makes his advice to readers to consult regularly with their doctors all the more poignant.
The contents of this short book are very straightforward. After a brief introduction, the author talks about the four stages of gout: asymptomatic hyperuricemia, acute attacks, intercritical periods, and advanced gout. I’m in the third stage of gout myself. The second chapter looks at how gout is treated–acute attacks, the underlying high amount of uric acid throughout the body, as well as prophylaxis. The third chapter looks at how one can get the right diagnosis for gout, through synovial fluid diagnosis, tophi sampling, clinical diagnosis, blood or urine tests, or diagnostic imaging, and what other conditions are often confused for gout. The fourth chapter takes a look at hyperuricemia and its related health conditions, including kidney failure, stroke, heart attacks, and so on. I was not pleased at reading that my high levels of uric acid add to the immense risk factors I already have from family history to these conditions. The fifth chapter gives the altar call for people who suffer gout to get their weight under control through limiting alcohol consumption (with the exception of red wines in moderation) and managing their health through diet and exercise. The sixth chapter looks at alternative medicines, where the author gets to vent his spleen at a great many bogus cures that are offered as well as some which appear to work for one reason or another or that are at least worthy of investigation. The book then closes with three appendices that look at the purine content of various foods, some additional information on anti-gout medications (namely NSAIDS, Colchicine, and other Uric acid lowering medications), as well as a note for doctors.
The author notes with some puzzlement how difficult gout is to get a handle on, and there is little note in this book on the positive side of gout. This is a book, on the contrary, written at least in large part to scare those who suffer from gout to exercising more and getting their diet control, as well as to take various drug regimens to seek to treat the underlying conditions that lead to gout. As the author notes, there is a great deal that is not known about the condition and a great deal of tension in how one treats it, especially since treating gout and hyperuricemia can paradoxically lead to more attacks in the short term as the body’s uric acid levels become temporarily unstable. The author notes that many people are simply not able, for one reason or another, to secrete uric acid very well through kidneys, while others overproduce uric acid, and others both over-produce and under-secrete it, perhaps the worst of both worlds. If you suffer from gout, this is a worthwhile book to read, but if not, there is little reason to check it out unless you want to encourage someone you know who happens to suffer from it.
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