Though gout is usually a problem for adults and the elderly, children can experience inflamed, reddened joints caused by gout. Children afflicted with gout might experience pain so severe that moving is difficult. Parents can do plenty to relieve their little ones of the pain of this condition, and take steps to prevent it recurring.
Children can experience gout in any of their joints, including ankles and fingers, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Symptoms most often occur in the feet, according to the American College of Rheumatology. Inflamed joints can become hot, tender, swollen, painful and difficult to move. Gout attacks typically get better after a few days, though it might take more than a week for symptoms to disappear, according to the NIAMSD. Gout frequently reoccurs, with children facing symptoms again almost immediately or again months or years later, according to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina.
Children can develop gout when the body produces too much uric acid or has difficulty getting rid of uric acid, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Medications that interfere with uric acid levels and a genetic tendency to store too much uric acid could be to blame. Gout also is more likely to occur in children who have diabetes or suffer from conditions such as obesity, kidney disease or certain blood cancers.
Doctors will typically test uric acid levels if gout is suspected, according to KidsHealth. Life changes such as cutting back on eating meat, avoiding high-fat foods and losing weight gradually instead of quickly might be able to prevent future gout flare-ups in children. Doctors might also prescribe medications to reduce inflammation and pain, according to the Mayo Clinic.
You might not be able to prevent your child from developing gout, but you can still take steps to reduce gout's effect on your child's life. Left untreated, gout can eventually lead to problems with the kidneys, including kidney failure, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. When treated, the condition is rarely fatal, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If your child's symptoms continue or worsen despite treatment, contact your doctor for another evaluation.