A Five-Minute Guide to Managing and Preventing Gout

 

Gout has been called the disease of kings because many associate it with overindulging in rich food and drink. Gout is a form of arthritis that affects more than 2 million Americans. Unfortunately, the incidence of this disease is on the rise as the population of many countries grows older and heavier.

While gout is a complicated condition that can strike anyone, there are many effective medications and treatments available today. Use this quick guide to educate yourself about gout and keep your joints healthy.

Facts About GoutA Five-Minute Guide to Managing and Preventing Gout

  1. Learn the definition. Gout occurs when too much uric acid builds up in your blood. The uric acid hardens into crystals that cause inflammation in your joints. The most common causes of gout are being overweight and consuming too much alcohol and animal foods that contain high levels of substances called purines.
     
  2. Spot the symptoms. Gout often appears at night. Your big toe may ache, feel tender, and turn red. Gout can also affect other joints, such as your knees and ankles.
     
  3. Know your risk factors. In addition to lifestyle factors, gout can run in the family or be associated with other illnesses like diabetes and certain cancers.
     

Preventing and Managing Gout

 

  1. Ask for a diagnosis. Simple tests can measure the amount of uric acid in your blood or fluid around your joints. Your doctor will also monitor your symptoms to determine if you require treatment, since many individuals have high levels of uric acid without experiencing any adverse effects.
     
  2. Treat acute flare-ups. Immediate treatment can stop most gout attacks in less than a day. Treatment may include steroid shots, other medications, and rest for the affected joint.
     
  3. Receive long term care. It’s important to remember that joint deterioration may continue even when you’re free from visible symptoms. Chronic gout can also affect your kidneys. Your doctor may recommend ongoing treatment.
     
  4. Avoid alcohol. Alcohol aggravates gout, especially in the case of beer, which is full of purine chemicals. Liquor is another culprit. There is conflicting evidence about the effects of wine, but recent studies suggest it may also contribute to flare-ups.
     
  5. Cut back on soda. Fructose-sweetened beverages can also trigger the onset of gout. Water is a better choice because it helps your kidneys flush out more uric acid.
     
  6. Lose weight. Sensible weight loss is essential for dealing with gout. Crash diets that fail to provide enough calories may trigger your body to produce more uric acid. Rely on regular exercise and nutrient dense foods instead.
     
  7. Change your diet. Thanks to modern drugs, most gout patients no longer have to endure severely restricted diets. Still, it’s a good idea to get most of your calories from fruits and vegetables. Eat healthy fats and cut back on the foods highest in purines, such as red meat and seafood.
     
  8. Take your prescriptions. Your doctor may suggest escalating doses of drugs that reduce uric acid levels. You may also want to talk with your doctor about alternatives to medications that can trigger attacks, such as aspirin and diuretics.
     
  9. Prepare for medical stress. The stress associated with medical procedures may also aggravate gout. Let your doctor know about any conditions you have when you’re having surgery or undergoing any major medical procedure.
     

Experts estimate that 9 out of 10 people can find effective relief from gout through appropriate medication and lifestyle changes. Talk with your doctor about your individual concerns. A healthy diet and proper treatment can protect your joints and keep you free from discomfort.

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