ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
U.S. Spends Billions On Alternative Medicine
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Beware of Dog Bites
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Chronic Low Back Pain Is on the Rise
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Cane Use May Cut Progression of Knee Osteoarthritis
CANCER
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
Women Smokers Lose 14.5 Years Off Life Span
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
CAREGIVING
Child's Food Allergies Take Toll on Family Plans
Caring for Aging Loved Ones Can Be a Catch-22
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
COSMETIC
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
DIABETES
Strict Blood Sugar Lowering Won't Ease Diabetes Heart Risk
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
Formula Puts Doctor, Patient Glucose Readings on Same Page
DIET, NUTRITION
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
Caffeine May Offer Some Skin Cancer Protection
Asparagus May Ease Hangover
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Fish in U.S. Rivers Tainted With Common Medications
Ozone-Depleting Inhalers Being Phased Out
Prenatal Exposure to Traffic Pollution May Lead to Asthma
EYE CARE, VISION
Unconscious Learning: In the Eye of the Beholder?
Certain Diabetes Drugs May Pose Eye Risk
Magnetic Pulses to Brain Improve Lazy Eye in Adults
FITNESS
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
FDA Mandates New Warnings for Botox
Brisk Walk Can Help Leave Common Cold Behind
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
GENERAL HEALTH
Uncover Why Turmeric Helps You Heal
Adults Need To Get Thier Food Facts Straight
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Implanted Defibrillators Boost Long-Term Survival
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
When It Comes to Toys, Shop Smart, Shop Safe
3 Home Habits Help Youngsters Stay Slim
Standard IQ Test May Underestimate People With Autism
MEN'S HEALTH
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
MENTAL HEALTH
Have a Goal in Life? You Might Live Longer
How to Attack Holiday Stress Head-On
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
SENIORS
Healthy Diet Could Cut Alzheimer's Disease Risk
High-Impact Activity May Be Good for Old Bones
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Vitamin D Deficiency Puts 40% of U.S. Infants and Toddlers At Risk
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
Add your Article

Basketball Star Details His Struggle With Gout

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, May 23 (HealthDay News) -- He's a 15-year veteran of the National Basketball Association, a four-time NBA All-Star, and head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers. He's basketball great Maurice Cheeks.

And he's got gout.

"I had no idea what gout was," Cheeks said, describing his first encounter -- at the age of 46 -- with the often-debilitating arthritic condition. "Never heard of it. Never talked to anyone about it, and then I started to find out that there were many other people with this condition."

Cheeks made his remarks at a press conference Thursday in New York City to mark the second annual National Gout Awareness Day, sponsored by the Gout & Uric Acid Education Society (GUAES). The goal is to draw attention to the risks, symptoms, and treatments associated with a condition that strikes between three million and five million adult Americans, and to debunk stereotypes about the so-called "disease of kings."

According to GUAES, gouty arthritis results from a condition known as hyperuricemia -- the build-up of abnormally high levels of uric acid in the blood. A normal waste product that forms from the breakdown of purines found in cells and a wide range of foods, uric acid is usually dissolved in the blood, passed through the kidney, and excreted through urine.

But in excess amounts, sodium urate can crystallize. In some cases, the resulting needle-like formations lodge and jab into joints, bringing about sudden and painful bouts of tenderness, redness, stiffness, and swelling in the big toe, instep, ankle, heel, knee, wrist, finger, or elbow.

People typically describe the pain as akin to the trauma of childbirth or breaking a bone.

"I don't think I can adequately express the pain," Cheeks said.

"I once had a severe ankle sprain, and in order for me to play, they had to wrap it and wrap it and wrap it, because any time I put my foot down, I was not able to play," he added. "But the game was so important. So I played, even though that was probably my worst pain ever. And that pain doesn't even compare to gout."

In February, Cheeks' fourth acute attack of gout triggered inflammation so severe he had to coach several 76ers games with one shoe on and one shoe off. For many people, an attack can turn the mere act of standing and walking into an unmanageable ordeal.

Today, gout is the most common form of arthritis among men over 40. Women also suffer from the condition, but typically after menopause, according to GUAES.

Obesity and the excessive consumption of purine-rich foods -- such as meats, shellfish, and hard liquor and beer -- have long been associated with a risk for gout. And portly figures of history, such as Henry VIII, Benjamin Franklin and Isaac Newton -- all suffered from gout, popularizing the view that it's an illness of the privileged and out-of-shape.

"But [Maurice Cheeks] defies the stereotypes," said Dr. N. Lawrence Edwards, chairman of GUAES, and vice chair of the department of medicine at the University of Florida, who spoke at the press conference.

While diet does play some role in who get gout, genetics is a major factor, with one in four people having a family history of gout, Edwards said.

"There is an assumption that this is a self-inflicted disease," noted Edwards. "That's the stereotype out there. But clearly Coach Cheeks represents none of this. It's an equal opportunity employer. It affects all strata of society."

Edwards agreed that lifestyle changes, such as keeping in shape and watching one's diet, could help somewhat reduce -- though probably not eliminate -- the risk for acute attacks among people with high levels of uric acid.

He stressed the importance of seeing a doctor and getting a uric acid reading for those who've experienced an attack -- with the aim of getting the serum acid level below the danger point of 6.8 mg/dL. And for many patients hovering above the cut-off, chronic daily medications may be the most effective way to fight back, he said.

"If any of you ever had [gout], you would know you would try to do everything possible to try and prevent it," Cheeks said with a wry smile. "Because once it's full-blown, there's not a whole lot you can do."

More information

To learn more, visit the Gout & Uric Acid Education Society.



SOURCES: Maurice Cheeks, head coach, Philadelphia 76ers; N. Lawrence Edwards, M.D., chairman, Gout & Uric Acid Education Society, and vice chair, department of medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville

Last Updated: May 23, 2008

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