What is the difference between gout and pseudogout?

Gout is considered as a type of arthritis in which excess uric acid in the blood accumulates in the joints, resulting to the swelling of the joint, redness and pain. As for pseudogout, it is a type of calcium pyrophosphate condition that has similar symptoms to other types of arthritis, nerve disease or neuropathy. It can also be asymptomatic. The accumulation of crystal deposits in the joints can trigger both gout and pseudogout. The uric acid crystals can cause gout while the calcium pyrophosphate dehydrate crystals can cause pseudogout.

What are the causes?

Elevated level of uric acid can lead to the development of gout. The excess production from intake of medications, diet and other conditions or excess excretion can lead to high uric acid levels. A diet that is high in purines including meat, seafood, cheese, alcohol and high-fructose sweets can increase the risk for the condition. Nevertheless, having an elevated level of uric acid does not necessarily mean that the individual will develop gout. Other risk factors for gout include trauma, old age, being male, medications, surgery, dehydration and certain illnesses.

Even though pseudogout has no specific cause, it most often occurs after the individual sustains trauma, has a family history of pseudogout or elevated iron levels in the blood.

Symptoms

Gout and pseudogout
The symptoms of gout include redness, pain and swelling that drastically increases within 1-2 days and can spread to areas surrounding the joint.

The symptoms of gout include redness, pain and swelling that drastically increases within 1-2 days and can spread to areas surrounding the joint. The condition can appear like an injury or skin infection and the pain in the affected foot might make walking difficult. The symptoms resolve within a few days with proper first aid care and treatment but can last for several weeks.

Pseudogout and gout have similar symptoms since both can cause abrupt pain and swelling in the affected joints but can improve without treatment and can come and go. The symptoms can also differ in some ways. Even though gout commonly affects the big toe, pseudogout can affect the large joints particularly the knees. Acute pseudogout can also cause fever and an elevated white blood count. The doctor can withdraw fluid from the affected joint to determine if it is a gout or pseudogout.

Treatment

Gout can be treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). If the individual could not take NSAIDs due to a history of stomach ulcers, the doctor can prescribe colchicine. Nevertheless, colchicine can cause vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. In case the individual could not tolerate colchicine, the doctor can prescribe an oral steroid such as prednisone.

When it comes to pseudogout that involves only one or two joints, the treatment involves draining the fluid from the joint with a needle and injecting a steroid into the joint to reduce the inflammation. Resting the affected joint can also help reduce the symptoms.

Preventive measures

The moment an acute gout attack resolves, the individual must avoid foods that are rich in purine to prevent further attacks. A diet with low-fat dairy products and cherries can decrease the uric acid level. If the uric acid stays high, medications can be taken to reduce the level.

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