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Gout is on the rise – and it’s not just gluttonous sovereigns who get it


Name: Gout.

Age: Thousands of years, at least since the time of the ancient Egyptians.

What is it, exactly? A form of inflammatory arthritis caused by excessive urate in the blood. Symptoms include joint pain, swelling and redness. Your big toe is often affected.

My big toe?! I don’t think so, but maybe.

But isn’t that what Paul Manafort had? Trump’s former campaign chairman, currently banged up and awaiting sentence for multiple crimes, did appear in a wheelchair with his right foot bandaged. But speculation by the New York Times – and others – that he had gout was … well, just that, speculation.

But that’s why we’re doing this, right? Well, it’s one reason. There are others.

Such as? Gout – specifically that of Queen Anne, as portrayed by Olivia Colman – features prominently and graphically in The Favourite.

I love Olivia Colman! Although maybe a little less so now … And gout also featured, along with perudo, audiobooks and fried eggs, in a recent list – also comprehensively covered in Pass Notes, as it happens – in Tatler magazine of ways to be upper class in 2019.

Gout is back in fashion, is that what we are saying? Well, it’s certainly back in the public consciousness.

But we won’t get it, because we are not Tatler readers, or port-swilling, venison-eating, 18th-century royalty, right? There is no guarantee, I’m afraid. As well as being more visible in culture, gout – long seen as a disease for gluttonous sovereigns – is reportedly on the rise, going up by about 4% a year.

Since when? Research in 2013 found the prevalence of people diagnosed with gout in the UK rose by 64% between 1997 and 2012. Obesity, fatty foods and fizzy drinks have been blamed.

We don’t eat fatty food or drink fizzy drinks. This is the Guardian. We eat only lentils and muesli, and drink nettle tea. Again, no guarantee of immunity. A recent study suggests that genetics plays a more important role in the disease’s development than diet.

Passed down, like the family silver. Or not.

New New Year resolution: not to go on Who Do You Think You Are? to discover – inevitably – that we are Queen Anne’s great-great-great-something, also descended from Henry VIII, or Dr Johnson, or any other famous gout sufferer. Good plan. Danny Dyer has almost certainly got gout.

But if gout’s cool again … Cool like Manafort.

Do say: “Doctor, doctor, my big toe’s swollen up like a balloon and is hurting something rotten.” “Gout?” “But I’ve only just got in …”

Don’t say: “Gout and proud.”

Source: TheGuardian