On the second Monday of October each year we celebrate Columbus Day; the day that Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas. During his first successful voyage in 1492, he sailed with a fleet consisting of the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria, and arrived in what is now considered to be the Bahamas.
During Columbus’ return trip to Spain after his first voyage, he suffered his first major attack of “gout.”* Over the next 14 years, he continued to have these attacks that crippled him for months at a time more frequently and more severely until his death in 1506.
Today, approximately 4% of the adult population suffers from gout. Gout is characterized by sudden severe attacks of pain, redness, swelling, and tenderness in the joints, especially the big toe. The pain is so severe that it can wake you up, and can be caused by something as simple as the sheets on your bed rubbing against the toe. Once the severe pain has gotten better, you can notice discomfort in that joint for several weeks afterwards.
You may be more at risk of developing gout if you:
- Have previously had gout
- Have a family history of gout
- Drink more than 1 serving of alcohol a day (for women) or 2 servings of alcohol a day (for men)
- Are postmenopausal
- Have untreated high blood pressure or diabetes
- Eat large amounts of asparagus, mushrooms, organ meat, anchovies, or herring
It is important to set up an appointment with Dr. Schlam if you have symptoms like the ones described above. Untreated gout can cause severe pain and permanent joint damage. There are treatment options available to treat your current gout attack as well as to prevent future attacks if needed.
All of us at Hollowbrook Foot Specialists in Wappingers Falls, want to wish you a Happy Columbus Day!
*Historians now believe Columbus had a form of reactive arthritis.
By David Schlam