The return of Dickensian ailments as sales of gout and chilblain remedies soar
Experts say the rise is due to the excesses of Christmas and the cold weatherStudy last year found that hospital admissions for gout have increased by 80 per cent in a decade
18:11 GMT, 18 January 2013
18:44 GMT, 18 January 2013
Portrait of Henry VIII, aged 49 in 1540. The king famously suffered from gout
They’re traditionally seen as Victorian winter ailments straight out of the pages of a Dickens novel.
But soaring numbers of Britons are buying treatments for gout and chilblains, new figures show.
And experts say the excesses of Christmas and the cold weather are to blame.
The online pharmacy Chemist Direct has reported that sales of CherryFlex – aimed at reducing
the effects of gout – are up 66 per cent so far this month, compared to the
whole of October, November and December combined.
Cherries contain antioxidants, which it's claimed help to counter the high levels of uric acid
that trigger gout.
A study last year found that hospital admissions for the condition have increased by 80 per cent in a decade to more than 4,400 a year.
Experts blame eating and drinking to
excess for the illness caused by a build-up in the blood of uric acid, a
waste product formed by the breakdown of food, beer and wine.
If someone produces too much uric acid, tiny crystals will start to form in the joints and cause pain and inflammation.
'We believe that much of the rise in demand is down to over excesses of Christmas and New Year,' said Krishna Soma, superintendent pharmacist at Chemist Direct.
'Too much alcohol and rich food can raise the levels of uric acid. This has not been helped by the dreadful weather which has meant people remaining pretty sedentary and not exercising.
Experts say eating and drinking to excess is to blame for gout (pictured)
'Many people with the symptoms (joint pain) to do not always realise they may have gout,' she said.
The painful illness is known as the disease of kings as it afflicted a number of monarchs including Henry VIII.
Meanwhile, the cold weather in recent days has also seen an increase in sales of chilblains cream.
The ailment, which causes the skin to become red, inflamed and very itchy, is caused when extremities such as toes and fingers warm up too quickly after being exposed to bitter cold. It is normally more common in children.
'Chilblains – or erythema perni – were traditionally caused by people toasting frozen fingers and toes beside a fire or in a scalding bath,' said Ms Soma.
'However, it can have the same affect on children playing out in the snow, before going inside and warming their hands directly on radiators.'
She advised: 'In many cases we suspect people will be unfamiliar with the symptoms, such as burning, itching and inflamed skin. We suggest they treat the affected areas with chilblain creams, and if in doubt consult their GP.'