A form of inflammatory arthritis, gout causes sudden and severe pain, swelling and tenderness. While it occurs in the big toe’s large joint most often, it can affect other joints in your feet, ankles, knees, hands, wrists, elbows and even soft tissue and tendons. One of the most excruciating rheumatic conditions, gout afflicts only one joint at a time usually. A Mayo Clinic study showed that it’s more likely to recur if your first bout affected a joint other than your big toe. Over time, gout can become chronic and strike several joints simultaneously.
Discover Gout Causes
Purines are nitrogen-containing compounds that are present in human tissues and protein foods. Your body metabolizes purines into uric acid, which should dissolve in your blood so you can eliminate it in your urine. But high uric acid blood levels can cause tiny needle-like crystals to build up in your joints. This leads to sudden inflammationand intense pain. Gout symptoms arise at night typically.
“The prevalence of gout more than doubled nationwide between the 1960s and 1990s, and the increases have continued into the 1990s and 2000s,” said Dr. Hyon Choi, a physician who studies gout at Boston University School of Medicine.
Accordingto the Mayo Clinic, gout affects about 28 percent of Americans, mostly overweight middle-aged men. When women get gout, it usually appears after menopause. Gout accounts for about 5 percent of all arthritis cases. A joint injury, infection, severe illness, surgery or chemotherapy may trigger gout, or your diet may be responsible. Experts suspect that climbing rates of obesity and high blood pressure are partly to blame for the rise in gout. Fortunately, pharmaceutical remedies and lifestyle changes can relieve symptoms and deter more episodes.
Seek Immediate Treatment
For many reasons, early diagnosis is important. An untreated gout attack can last a few days to two weeks. Do nothing, and it can lead to joint damage and deformity. Research has linked gout to other medical conditions including kidney problems, diabetes and heart disease. So see your doctor immediately for one or dual treatments.
Prescription medications for inflammation include beta-tubulin interactors like Colchicine to treat your pain and swelling symptoms. You should feel relief within a few hours to a couple of days. Other medicines like Uloric treat the root cause of gout by reducing your uric acid. Over time, each medication can help prevent recurrent acute attacks.
Embrace a Healthy Diet
Diets designed for quick or extreme weight loss work against you because they increase uric acid levels in your blood. Other gout causes include fasting, eating large portions of high-purine foods, drinking too much alcohol or sweet sodas and dehydration. But switching to a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water can help avoid future incidences.
To develop a lifelong eating strategy, focus on a heart-healthy diet that includes all food groups, especially vegetables, plant proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy. Keep refined carbohydrates and processed foods to a minimum.
Follow the American Medical Association’s balanced diet guidelines for gout patients.
Eat foods high in complex carbohydrates (whole grains, fruits and vegetables)
Limit protein to 15 percent of calories from soy, lean meats and poultry
Consume no more than 30 percent of calories from fat (10 percent animal fat)
Also adhering to the following diet do’s and don’ts is important to relieve gout symptoms and avoid future bouts.
Reduce Purine-Rich Food and Beverage Consumption
Eating foods high in purines can raise your uric acid blood levels and cause gout attacks. Instead of eliminating all purines from your diet, just decrease your amount enough to control gout attacks.
According to the American Medical Association and the Arthritis Foundation, these foods are high in purines, so they can trigger gout attacks:
Shellfish: Shrimp, lobster and mussels
Anchovies, sardines in oil, herring and fish roes
Red and organ meats: Liver, kidneys, tongue and sweetbreads
Meat extracts, consommé and gravies
Legumes: Dried beans and peas
Mushrooms, asparagus, spinach and cauliflower
Excessive beer and other alcoholic beverages: More than two drinks for men and one for women within 24 hours
Enjoy Gout-Friendly Foods
Research shows that these foods lower uric acid levels, reduce inflammation or are good for your heart.
Fatty acids found in fish such as salmon
Tofu made from soybeans may be a better choice than meats
Low-fat dairy products: Consuming a serving or more of low-fat yogurt per day may improve your uric acid elimination through urine
Plant oils (olive, canola, flax and sunflower)
Fruits that are less sweet: Dark berries may contain chemicals that lower uric acid and reduce inflammation
Vitamin C supplements (500-1000 milligrams per day)
Skim milk: Its high-protein and low-purine content can reduce your uric acid
Regular and decaffeinated coffee: Antioxidants may be the reason coffee lowers uric acid and gout risk
Stick to Your Lifelong Plan
Although gout is an incurable and often chronic disease, you and your doctor can control it. Exercising and maintaining a healthy weight will support your diet efforts. Combine medications and lifestyle modifications to prevent future attacks, avoid pain, avert long-term joint damage and evade tophi, lumps of crystallized uric acid in affected joints or surrounding tissues.