This is a disease that occurs when the buildup of uric acid in your body causes episodes of acute pain. The pain can be in the big toe, the hip, and other parts of the body. It is a type of arthritis and can be very debilitating during a flare.
Thankfully, most flares calm down and go away, and future flares can be prevented by controlling the amount of uric acid in your blood.
If you don’t control the uric acid in your blood you could even suffer worse than the pain associated with gout. You could end up having other debilitating conditions, even kidney failure.
WHO GETS GOUT?
Gout is a very painful condition that can attack any of your joints. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, however, you’re much more likely to get gout if you meet any of these criteria.
- Genetics – While it’s not a sure thing, if you have parents or siblings with gout, then you’re going to be up to 80 percent more likely to get gout. Knowing this can help you adjust your diet to help you avoid it.
- Male – Before women enter menopause they have higher levels of estrogen. This may be why men are more prone to gout and why women are more prone after a certain stage in life. Estrogen may be a kind of protectant.
- Overweight – The fact is, the more you weigh, the less effective your blood is at filtering out the extra uric acid. If you have extra belly fat you may be at more risk.
- Drink Alcohol – Beer increases the risk of gout up to 50%, while hard liquor increases the risk by about 15%. Beer contains purines, so if you have gout or are prone to gout through family history, you may want to avoid beer, and only drink hard liquor on special occasions. Wine does not raise the risk factor significantly, but should only be consumed in moderation.
- Eat Foods Rich in Purines – All foods containing purines are broken down into uric acid. Therefore, if you are prone to gout attacks and eat food rich in purines, you may end up having an attack. These foods include Organ meat, bacon, beef, pork, lamb, game meat, anchovies, sardines, herring, mackerel, scallops, and gravy.
- You Have an Enzyme Defect – Enzyme defects such as hypoxanthine guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (HGPRT) deficiency and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency may lead to gout.
- Have Lead in Your Environment – Researchers have discovered that even low levels of lead in the body can lead to gout symptoms. Even though the government sets safe lead levels, if you have a sudden issue with gout get your lead levels checked.
- Have Had an Organ Transplant – It’s thought that the medications and treatments that an organ transplant patient may have taken are why they end up with gout. Tests are done to try to mitigate side effects but up to 84 percent of transplant recipients end up having gout.
- Side Effect for Some Meds & Supplements – Diuretics, aspirin, niacin, cyclosporine, or levodopa all carry with them benefits, but also risks of use including developing gout. If you need to take these drugs ask for a blood test for uric acid levels and try to adjust with diet.
The fact is, anyone can get gout, but this is the most likely group to get gout. If you get diagnosed with gout, it is a very painful and debilitating disease, if not kept under control.
SYMPTOMS & TREATMENT
We’ve already gone over many of the causes. But the symptoms are rarely mistaken for something else. this is mostly due to the extreme pain a person suffers through when a gout attack occurs.
Rapid Onset of Searing Pain – The pain can be so intense, that even the lightest bedsheet touching the affected area can be too much to bear.
Warm, Swollen, Red Joints – Usually at the site of the problem it will be warm, red, and swollen.
Attacks Small Joints – The big toe is the main location where gout attacks, but it can also affect ankles, knees, wrist, fingers, and elbows.
Blood Test – A simple blood test will confirm if your symptoms are gout related and not just arthritis setting in.
Uric acid levels are treated via medication that blocks uric acid production. These medicines include; Aloprim, Lupurin, Zyloprim, and Uloric. These drugs work to lower the production of uric acid in your body.
There are also meds that improve uric acid removal such as Probalan.
There are also pain meds such as NSAIDS, like ibuprofen, that you can take to control symptoms. Your doctor might also prescribe Colchicine to help control pain if the NSAIDS aren’t working well enough. They may also give corticosteroid treatments if you can’t take colchicine or NSAIDS, or they’re not working for you.
There are also self-treatments you can try for both the prevention of gout, and the treatment of gout.
SELF-CARE FOR GOUT
Anytime you can treat a condition with diet and exercise, you should consider doing so. If you’ve ever had a gout attack, that is plenty incentive to do all you can to prevent future attacks. However, keep in touch with your doctor and have blood tests done periodically to make sure your uric acid levels are staying in a normal range.
- Change Your Diet – Avoid eating purine rich foods. Eliminating these foods from your diet will keep your body from producing too much uric acid. Foods rich in purine, such as anchovies and high-fructose corn syrup, should be avoided or eliminated.
- Drink Lemon or Lime Water – Put 1/2 the juice from one lemon or lime in your glass of water each morning. Citric acid can help dissolve the uric acid which forms crystals in the joints and leads to a gout attack and the intense pain.
- Stay Hydrated – Consuming water is always a good idea, but especially if you have a condition such as gout. Try to drink at least 64 ounces of fresh filtered water each day.
- Limit Alcoholic Beverages – Alcoholic beverages, especially beer, tend to make gout worse. It not only increases the production of uric acid, but your body tries to remove the alcohol from your system before it tries to remove the uric acid. This can lead to a buildup of uric acid and result in a gout attack.
- Lose Weight – Being overweight is never good for your body. Eliminating high purine foods can help you lose weight, but if you’re having gout attacks, you may want to actively work on losing more weight. Your body functions better at a healthy weight. The elimination of uric acid is one area where you need your body to function more efficiently.
- Exercise Regularly – Working out can help improve all your bodily functions. Decide on a time of day that works best for you.
- Take Vitamin C – Some studies indicate that taking vitamin C helps lessen the effects of high uric acid in the blood. If you drink lemon or lime water every day, you will be getting some Vitamin C in your diet. Don’t be afraid to take supplements. However, your body will only absorb 500 mg at a time and will excrete the excess.
- Eat Dark Red Cherries – Tart cherry juice has been shown to help reduce uric acid levels in the blood. If you don’t want to eat cherries you can buy tart cherry supplements.
- Drink Coffee – Some studies have shown that drinking one to two cups of coffee per day lowers your risk of developing gout and may help keep uric acid levels at a healthy range.
- Take Medication – If your doctor has prescribed medication, it is important to take as prescribed. If you suddenly stop taking your medication you could suffer a gout attack. Your doctor will check your uric acid levels yearly and adjust your dosage accordingly.
- Ice It – You can use an ice pack on the affected area 20 to 30 minutes at a time, several times a day to try to help control the swelling. However, if you’re having a severe attack, an ice pack touching your skin may be unbearable.
- Elevate It – It can be helpful to elevate the affected area above your heart to reduce blood flow and possibly alleviate some of the pain.
- Call Your Doctor – If the swelling is severe, there is a possibility that you may need fluid drained from the affected joint to prevent the skin from splitting open.
The best thing to do is to find out as much information as you can so that you can avoid adding to your own problem. Eat foods that aren’t high in purine, drink plenty of water, take your vitamins, exercise and sleep well.
One of the most important things you can do when you’re prone to gout is to prevent attacks from happening. You can do this by taking your medication and changing your diet. Many people have one attack, get on medication and never have another attack. Yet others, especially those with a genetic disposition, will continue to have flare-ups from time to time, although they should be less frequent or less severe.
Because gout is so painful, you will want to prevent attacks as much as possible. Keep in mind that taking care of yourself to lower the levels of uric acid in your body can also help lower your risk of diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and heart disease. So, that’s good for overall health.
This depends on your other health conditions and the type of diet you and your doctor have agreed on. However, avoid all foods rich in purines or eliminate them entirely and add in foods that reduce uric acid, like tart cherries and citrus fruits.
Drink fresh water every day. Keeping your body hydrated is important for keeping it healthy and lessening the severity of many ailments. This is especially true for gout. A hydrated body can help flush uric acid out of the system much easier.
Daily movement and exercise are good for you, period. Walking and moving around every day keeps your joints lubricated. It can also help keep your bones and muscles in a healthy condition. Daily exercise will help you build muscle, lower your fat ratio and keeps your blood flowing properly, which can help your body eliminate wastes and uric acid better.
When you take care of yourself, you’ll not only lower your risk for a gout attack but lower your risk for other health conditions as well.