Friday, December 29, 2017


Certain maladies traditionally have had a bit of levity associated with them.  Oh, not the really bad ones.  Only Monty Python level humor can make fun of The Black Death. No, its mostly the little stuff.  Toothaches for instance.  Although being in the midst of spending my 2018 International Travel fund on root canal work lessens the merriment for me considerably.

Perhaps one of the maladies most prone to jokes is gout.  At least in times past it was very funny.

Because gout can be brought on by over indulgence in meat and alcohol it was considered in the 17th and 18th centuries to be largely a disease of the rich.  And to see them get a bit of comeuppance for their high living was broadly satisfying...

The wrapped and propped up feet were universally recognized as a sign of gout.  The disease classically hits the base of the big toe the hardest.

Gout is an unusual word.  Most medical phrases of more recent vintage are highly polysyllabic. Ankylosing Spondylitis.  Polymyagia Rheumatica. (Both are, like gout, joint diseases).  

Gout derives from the Latin "gutta" meaning a drop.  It was theorized that some kind of unfortunate humors were dripping into joints.  Actually that's not a bad explanation, as acute gout is caused by uric acid crystals congregating in joints instead of being excreted by the means suggested by their name.

Gutta became the French "gote" circa 1200.  Gutta also gave us other words.  Gutter for a method of conveying drops of rain water.  Possibly Gut from a similar derivation.  Candles still "gutter" in the sense of melting little channels from which drops of wax drip out.  

What intrigues me is that in French the word "goût" means taste, or tasty.  It makes me think that at some point the connection between the acute pain of gout and the ongoing pleasure of eating heavy, meaty meals and washing them down with rich wine must have been made by some clever medieval observer.  

Hoping that your holiday indulgences have been free of acute consequences.


While researching Gout Cartoons I found a series of modern ones.  Put out by the "Gout and Uric Acid Education Society" they are entirely without malice.  And without any humor at all!  If you are oddly curious....Here Ya Go.

This Education Society seems earnest and well intended, but I do note it is sponsored financially by several pharmaceutical companies that, oh, just maybe have a vested interest here.

1 comment:

The Old Man said...

Once upon a time, I was a sufferer. It ranks right behind pancreatitis WRT pain. I know - I've had both.
And spent 4 months in the Cleveland Clinic for the pancreas surgery...
I do allopurinol daily now.