Gout - Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Importance Of Diet And Medication

Gout is one form of arthritis. It is characterized by the build-up of uric acid in the blood. This acid will collect around a specific joint and cause pain, inflammation, and stiffness. In the majority of cases, gout occurs in the big toe, though it can also appear in the ankle, knee, or on the hands and fingers. The overindulgence in rich, fatty foods, chemically-laden meat and fish, and excessive drinking can cause gout. 

Many individuals take medication to get rid of gout. These are often anti-inflammatory gout medications to relieve the pain and swelling. Corticosteroids for gout are also a significant option many doctors will consider for their patients. Ultimately, patients need medications to block uric acid production. Natural remedies for gout should also be taken into account.

Symptoms Of Gout

Gout occurs suddenly and is quite painful. Joint inflammation, a key sign of gout, causes the affected joint to appear red and swollen. Often individuals suffering from gout will describe it as throbbing pain. Gout may also cause a mild to high fever. The length of time that gout lasts varies. On average, cases range anywhere from a single day to several weeks. Unfortunately, if gout is left untreated, it can cause debilitating pain. Thus, if you think that you might have gout, visit a doctor as soon as possible. Beginning treatment as early as possible will reduce the amount of pain one has to experience. 

Treatments For Gout

Individuals should consider treating gout with a uric acid cleanse. There are several potential medications doctors will prescribe when it comes to treating gout. However, most healthcare professionals will recommend a change in diet, regardless of if they also prescribe medication. Most patients use ibuprofen or another over-the-counter anti-inflammatory to alleviate the pain. However, before doing so, patients should visit the doctor to ensure they are following the most appropriate treatment for their health history. In more extreme cases, some patients require long-term treatment. This might include multiple visits to the doctor, medical tests, and a variety of medications.

Foods Connected To Gout Flare-Ups

Meat and seafood, as a rule, are high in proteins that the body breaks down into uric acid. Excessive amounts of these foods increase the amount of uric acid in the body. Thus, they can cause an increase in gout symptoms. Due to this effect, individuals dealing with gout should reduce the amount of meat, wheat, and seafood they consume. Specifically, they need to avoid eating liver, kidneys, and sweetbreads. Instead, individuals should choose white meats over red meats. When they are thinking about eating poultry, chicken and duck are considered better for gout than turkey. Individuals should also stick with the drumsticks and thighs rather than the breast with the skin.

Gout And Alcohol

The consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol is one of the primary factors that dramatically increases an individual's chances of developing gout. In addition to this, individuals who drink too much alcohol and who already have gout are likely to exacerbate their symptoms. Of course, drinking alcohol in moderation does not put individuals at a significantly high risk of developing gout. Thus, individuals should limit their consumption to one glass in any given evening. In addition, the type of alcohol matters. Beer, for instance, is more likely to aggravate gout. Wine, however, is considered better for individuals when it comes to dealing with gout.

Foods That Will Help Avoid And Clear Up Gout

Eating vegetables is a great way to clear out some of the uric acid in the body. Thus, filling up on leafy greens and lots of other healthy vegetables is a decent way to get rid of the symptoms linked to gout. With this in mind, however, the cooking method matter. Individuals should steam, bake, grill, or broil vegetables rather than frying them. Boiling may make it easier for the body to break down the fiber in many vegetables. However, it is not necessary to boil vegetables to the texture of baby food. Al dente is the perfect way to serve vegetables to get the most nutrition, flavor, and texture. Some vegetables, however, are high in purine. This is the acid that breaks down into uric acid. During a gout flare-up, individuals need to stay away from asparagus, mushrooms, cauliflower, and spinach. These are all high in purine. 

The Role of Dehydration

Several factors can trigger a flare-up of gout in patients. One of them is how an individual's body changes as they get older. Another major factor is dehydration. Many individuals believe they are well-hydrated when they drink fruit juices and sodas. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Soda, for instance, can actually be quite dehydrating. It will make individuals go to the bathroom more, so they are losing more fluid. Fruit juices are full of sugar, which can also have a negative effect on an individual's hydration. Instead, individuals should focus on water as their beverage of choice. They should drink a minimum of eight glasses of water every day, though they may need more if they are active or if it is hot outside. 

The Impact Of Our Changing Bodies

Women who suffer from gout typically experience it most often during menopause. This is because of the changes that are going on throughout their bodies in terms of their hormonal balance. Unfortunately, it can be incredibly frustrating when gout strikes during this time of life. When it does strike at this time, it is not significantly based on lifestyle or consuming the wrong foods. However, it does not tend to last for a long time. Individuals should note that their genetics often influence whether or not they are going to be diagnosed with gout. Some doctors claim that a patient's family history of gout may increase their risk of developing it.

Gout And Lifestyle

Individuals who are overweight are at an increased risk for more gout attacks, as well as an increase in the severity of their symptoms. An injury to the foot or hand also exacerbates gout symptoms, as does frequently wearing uncomfortable shoes. Individuals need to make lifestyle changes to combat these effects. If their shoes could be an issue, they need to look at finding new pairs. Women should only wear low heels and avoid shoes that pinch their toes. Shoes need to fit comfortably to help with gout. In addition, individuals need to lose excess weight and maintain a healthy body weight. However, it is vital to do this safely and not lose more than three pounds in a week. 

Blood Pressure And Other Medications

Individuals who have high blood pressure are often prescribed diuretics to reduce it. These medications are very effective at lowering an individual's blood pressure. Unfortunately, diuretics can be a significant trigger for gout. The reason for this is because diuretics flush the body more frequently, which means that individuals taking them are going to make more trips to the bathroom. Making more trips to the bathroom puts individuals at an increased risk of dehydration, which can then increase levels of uric acid in their bodies and trigger gout. Thus, individuals who have high blood pressure and are at risk of gout should talk to a doctor about the best blood pressure medication for their needs. If they need diuretics, they must develop an appropriate plan to manage the risks.

What To Do During A Gout Attack

Individuals can do a few things when they are in the midst of a gout attack. Taking action immediately when a gout attack strikes can potentially help them reduce the severity of the pain as well as how long the pain lasts. Of course, if individuals are able to visit a doctor immediately, this is the most effective course of action. Unfortunately, however, this is often not available to patients. If individuals experiencing a gout attack have to wait a few days to see their doctor, taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication can help take away some of the swelling and pain they are experiencing. Patients should also elevate their feet and legs. Making immediate dietary changes is also vital to reduce the build-up of uric acid in the body as fast as possible.