Painful Victorian condition ‘on the rise among young people’ as cases surge in UK

By Staff 6 Min Read

Gout is a painful condition that is often associated with Victorian Britain, but it continues to be a problem today – and health experts are warning that it is on the rise

A painful health condition more common in Victorian times is making an unexpected comeback among the younger generation, according to statistics.

A notable spike in gout cases is alarming health experts with the ailment, once rampant in the era of Charles Dickens, seeing a 30 per cent rise in diagnoses among those in their 20s and 30s.

Gout, characterized by severe pain and known as the most common type of inflammatory arthritis in the UK, affects roughly one in 40 people across the nation. It typically manifests as a sudden and intense pain in the big toe, accompanied by swelling and redness, and can eventually spread to other joints, potentially leading to disability.

Medical professionals are now calling for increased vigilance and quicker intervention to manage this condition, as reported by Birmingham Live. Dr Avinash Hari Narayanan (MBChB), clinical lead at London Medical Laboratory, highlighted the importance of early detection, saying: “Unfortunately, gout is a condition that is very much still with us, despite the fact that simple blood tests can help identify people likely to suffer a flare before it ever happens. The charity Arthritis Action says one in 40 Brits now have the condition and it can lead to debilitating pain, even for younger people.

“A study published in the journal BMC Primary Care last November found gout is the most common inflammatory arthritis yet, frequently, it is not managed well enough or taken seriously. The last major UK study into the condition was held as long ago as 2012.

“At that time, a report in the British Medical Journal’s (BMJ) Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases revealed cases were significantly higher in 2012 than in 1997, the date of the preceding major study, with a 63.9% increase in prevalence and 29.6% increase in incidence over this period. Concerningly, although most gout patients were still 60 or older, the number of patients aged between 20 and 30 had increased by 30%.

“In some ways, there has been little advance since 2012. NHS Digital statistics show that 234,000 people were admitted to hospital with gout in 2021-2022. The 2023 BMC Primary Care report examined 51,784 cases of people with the disease and found 35.9% suffered at least one more flare during the study period. It found cases of gout flares are more likely in people who are male, Black, have a higher BMI, suffer from heart failure, chronic kidney disease (CKD), cardiovascular disease (CVD) or who take diuretics.”

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