Doctors were surprised when Gina Beauchamp came to them at the age of 37 showing signs of gout, as it's rare for younger women to get it. That wasmore than20 years ago, and she has now shared her unusual story.
"I was 37 years oldwhen my fingers started to curl up like claws and my toes felt so painful thatI couldn't move. I just thought I was extremely tired.
"My symptoms showed all the signs of gout, yet the doctors were unconvinced. Gout israre in women and usually occurs after the menopause, when oestrogen levels have fallen.
"Eventually, my GP recognised that I had gout, probably a result of the hysterectomy I'd had oneyear before. It's thought that oestrogen protects women from gout, and my oestrogen levels had dropped after my ovaries were removed. My GP prescribed allopurinol, a medication that reduces the levels of uric acid (urate) in the blood and controls gout attacks. It really worked.
"I still take one tablet of allopurinol aday and I've managed to keep my gout under control for the last 10 years. I also eat very carefully. I don't have too much protein, like meat and fish, and I drink white wine rather than beer, which can trigger gout.
"Apparently, cherries are very good at preventing gout attacks, so I have these with porridge for breakfast every day. I also drink plenty of water and herbal teas to keep hydrated.
"However, I had a bad attack recently. I went to friends' houses for meals and ended up eating beef three nights in a row and drinking alcohol.
"The following Monday morning, I could hardly move. The gout seemed to affect all my joints, not just my fingers and toes. I felt like I'd been run over by a car, and my eyes felt as if they'd been punched out.
"For the next few days, I ate only vegetables and drank plenty of water, but I felt dreadful for days. The gout was so painful I couldn't even bear the bedclothes touching my skin.
"It's made me even more determined to identify what I can and can't eat. But other than my recent attack, the gout hasn't really affected my lifestyle."
There is no direct connection, but some gout medications can cause hyperglycemia.
Read about gout, a type of arthritis where crystals form inside and around joints. Find out about the symptoms, causes and treatments.
The most common symptom of gout is sudden and very severe pain in one or more of your joints.
Find out about the main causes of gout, and read about what can increase your risk, such as your diet, medications and family history.
Read about how gout is diagnosed, including what your GP may ask and what tests may be carried out.
Read about the main treatments for gout, including ways to relieve pain during an attach and prevent attacks occurring in the first place.
Read about the possible complications of gout, including small lumps under the skin (tophi), joint damage and kidney stones.
Read the story of Gina Beauchamp, who was diagnosed with gout in her late 30s.
Read the story of Patrick Hanmer, who was 32 and living life to the full when he had his first attack of gout.