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GPs urged to look for symptoms as gout catches up with society

Aug 8th, 2013 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Lead Story, News


GOUT PAIN: This condition, which is more common in men, usually affects the big toe

NEW ZEALAND is one of the leading countries when it comes to gout — 5 to 10% of us suffer from it, and our Maori and Pasifika men suffer the most.

Arthritis New Zealand says gout is now the second most common form of arthritis (inflammation of the joints) and  says 14% of Maori and Pacific men suffer from gout compared with 5.8% of European men.

Arthritis New Zealand says there is a need for a greater awareness of gout. It says two-thirds of sufferers don’t get the appropriate treatment, and it is asking GPs to look for gout when testing patients for heart disease and diabetes.

woodhousecroppedNational MP Michael Woodhouse, chairman of the Parliamentary Friends of Arthritis Group (right), says gout can result in an inability to work, social isolation and pain.

“It’s largely invisible and that’s a consequence families underestimate on the sufferer,” he says.

Mr Woodhouse says the disease is devastating and there should be more community awareness of how it can be managed and treated.

“There are big health issues and there’s a need for political awareness from me and my colleagues. It’s awareness for the sufferers, health funders, MPs and [government drug-buying agency] Pharmac.”

Brooklyn Pharmacy chemist Daksha Harhari says the pharmacy gives out a lot of prescriptions for arthritis.

“We get a significant amount of people with gout issues. It’s a whole variety of people, but mainly Maori and Polynesians.”

Gout sufferer Brett Ross says the disease is a frustrating part of his life.   “It’s annoying for a person like me. I am a busy person, which requires me to move from activity to activity, but I just have to bear with the pain to get things done.”

Mr Ross says more publicity through targeted advertising may help people dealing with gout.

“It’s a disease that’s catching up on modern society. I’m in the high-risk group because of my genetic background [Mr Ross is Maori]. More publicity would give a better understanding.”

Gout can be treated with medication and lifestyle changes, but Arthritis New Zealand chief executive Sandra Kirby says New Zealand men face a barrier. “The biggest challenge for treatment is getting men to see their GP and then getting an early diagnosis,” she says.

Image(s): Top News, One Heart Many Lives


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is a student journalist studying at Whitireia in Welington. She is keen on keeping up with the news and writing stories that will have impact in the community. She is currently reporting stories within the Brooklyn area. She is interested in using multi-media in the news room.
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  1. Excellent work Anneka. One day Adam and I will be out of a job.

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