Almost all of the information contained in today's blog was taken from medical sites on the internet. I wanted to share accurate information on gout but felt a bit inadequate to do so. There's a good reason for that: I am not a doctor! However, this topic is important to me as I have several family members who have had gout at various times. When they have a “flare up” or "attack” they are in tremendous pain which greatly impacts their daily activities. The following information on this painful condition was primarily taken from the Kidney Foundation site at www.kidneyfoundation.org.
“Kidney disease can lead to gout, and gout may lead to kidney disease. Gout is caused by having too much uric acid in your blood. Uric acid is made when your body breaks down chemicals called purines. Purines are found naturally in your body, and can also be found in certain foods. When you have gout, your body either makes too much uric acid, or cannot get rid of it well enough. When uric acid builds up in the fluid around your joints, tiny crystals called urate crystals can form. Urate crystals cause gout symptoms, including pain and swelling. There are several things that can increase your risk of having gout. Kidney disease is one of the leading causes of gout.
Although many people have their first gout attack in one of their big toes, gout attacks can also happen in other joints. Some of the symptoms of gout include:
Tiny, sharp crystals build up under the skin around your joint, causing pain that can be severe. The pain is usually at its worst during the first 12–24 hours of the attack.
Your joint may swell, meaning it will increase in size or look puffy. A gout attack in your joint may look like swelling from an injury.
Your joint may appear red in color.
Your joint may feel hot — as if it is giving off heat. It may be warm to the touch. Some people describe gout pain as feeling like their joint is on fire.
In more severe cases of gout, your joint may feel stiff. This feeling can develop over time after several gout attacks, especially if you have chronic gout.
Gout attacks, also called flares or flare-ups, can come on suddenly and be extremely painful. Gout attacks can last anywhere from a few hours to several days. When you have acute gout, you may only have attacks once or twice a year. When you have chronic gout, attacks happen more regularly, with shorter breaks in between attacks.
There are things you can do to manage your symptoms during gout attacks. The main goal of treatment during an attack is to decrease joint pain and swelling. If you already take a medicine to lower uric acid at the time of an attack, you should continue your regular treatment. Some ways to manage gout pain and swelling during an attack are:
· Take medicines including NSAIDS, colchicine, and steroids. Talk to your doctor before starting any medicines. Some medicines like NSAIDS are not suggested when you have kidney disease.
· Keep your body hydrated by drinking water. If you have fluid restrictions because of kidney disease, talk to your doctor or dietitian about managing your fluid and gout.
· Avoid alcohol and food high in purines.
· Keep pressure off your joint. E.g., try walking with a cane if your toes or feet are affected.
· Elevate your affected joint.
· Use an icepack to keep your joint cool.
· Find ways to manage stress from the pain, like deep breathing and meditation.
If the pain during a gout attack does not get better at all within 48 hours, call your doctor to ask about other treatments you can try. Treatments are also available to prevent gout attacks from happening in the first place. Having gout attacks more often can increase your chances of having even more attacks in the future, so controlling the condition from the start is important. Talk to your doctor about whether medicines to prevent gout attacks are right for you.
Foods and drinks to avoid when you have gout
Alcohol is a trigger for gout attacks. When you drink, your kidneys work to filter out alcohol instead of uric acid, leaving uric acid to build up in your body. Beer is especially bad for gout because it has purines.
Sugary drinks (like soda), sugary foods, and foods with high-fructose corn syrup should be limited because of their connection to gout. There is less evidence about why these foods and drinks increase the risk of gout, but some connection has been found. Foods that are high in purines should be completely avoided since they contribute to creating uric acid in your body. These include:
· Animal organs (brains, kidneys, liver, sweetbreads, etc.)
· Dried beans and peas
Content courtesy of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Foods and drinks that may be good for gout
Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated is important if you have gout. Aim to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Drinking water can help keep uric acid from building up and help release it from your body. If you have fluid restrictions because of kidney disease, talk to your doctor or dietitian about managing your fluid and gout.
Cherries and foods with vitamin C
Some foods like cherries and fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C have been shown to lower the level of uric acid in your blood, which can have a positive effect on gout. Some examples of foods high in vitamin C are:
· Bell peppers
There is mixed evidence about whether cherries, and foods with high vitamin C can help prevent gout. Eating these foods will not treat gout the way that medicines can. In some cases, they may help improve your condition in some way.”
Here’s hoping this information will be beneficial to both management and treatment of this painful condition which impacts the quality of life.