The father of medicine, Hippocrates, did not know that uric acid causes inflammatory arthritis in the joints known as gout. But even 2,500 years ago, before the disease had a name, he noted men’s particular vulnerability to the disease.
Today, health care providers know more about gout than ever. And of the more than 9 million Americans living with the disease, more than 70% are men. It’s not a coincidence:
- That men naturally have higher uric acid levels.
- That gout runs in families.
- That gout can be affected by diet.
- That, as new diagnostic scans reveal, uric acid can threaten organs across the body, not just the joints.
- That high levels of uric acid, called hyperuricemia, can get more dangerous to patients over time.
All of these facts – especially the long-term risks – demonstrate the importance of diagnosing gout early, managing the disease and preventing not just attacks but also long-term damage.
Overcoming Reluctance and Accepting Support
One of the biggest obstacles in the fight against gout may be men’s reluctance to admit their symptoms, find a health care provider and get help.
A recent study found that 65% of American men avoid going to the doctor as long as they can. Many are not honest with their health care providers when they do go. This makes men unnecessarily vulnerable to painful, disruptive and life-threatening conditions such as gout that can be treatable – even preventable – with proper care and medication.
Gout patient and advocate Michael Bush recalled how his life was changed when he started working with a rheumatologist. For him, “finding a community of support” was also key to taking control of his gout. “Don’t be embarrassed to ask friends and family to help you,” Bush suggested.
Increasing communication and care among gout patients is an apt project for June, which is Men’s Health Month. Loved ones should use the opportunity to encourage friends or family suffering from joint pain to see a gout specialist. They may even consider offering to go with them.
When it comes to gout, communication and personal support are men’s – even those who make for reluctant patients – first line of defense.