Gout by Shana Laborde LVN
Gout is a disease that causes sudden severe episodes of pain, tenderness, redness and inflammation in joints. It usually affects one joint at a time – often the large joint of the big toe, but it can also be present in heels, ankles, knees, wrists, fingers and elbows. It’s often called ‘crystal arthritis’ because when the body has too much uric acid, needle-shaped crystals deposit in the joint space, causing pain and swelling. Gout affects more than one million Americans and can occur at any age. It’s often diagnosed in men between the ages of 40 – 50. Women are more at risk post-menopause.
An attack of gout can occur suddenly and feels like the joint is on fire. The joint will become hot, tender and swollen. Urate crystals can form in joints when you have high levels of uric acid in your blood. Uric acid normally dissolves in blood and passes through the kidneys – through urine. Sometimes your kidneys may not secrete enough uric acid or may produce too much. The body naturally produces uric acid when it breaks down purines such as steak, seafood, and alcoholic beverages, especially beer.
Gout is very serious, especially in the world of sports. When an athlete is diagnosed with gout, the player can be sidelined up to 10 days, depending how bad the flare up is. Gout might not be an everyday occurrence among pro athletes, but cases do arise. It’s important to take precautionary measures to ensure you don’t obtain gout because not only can it be painful, but it’s a condition that can become chronic and worsen over time. Gout can be managed through diet, lifestyle changes and certain medications, as needed, to treat and reduce the risk of gout flares and help lower uric acid levels. A gout diet may help lower the levels of uric acid in your blood. The general principles of a gout diet are essentially the same as recommendations for a balanced, healthy diet.
- Weight Loss – Being overweight increases your risk of developing gout. Losing weight also lessens the overall stress on joints.
- Proteins – Add protein to your diet with low-fat or fat-free dairy products, which are associated with reduced uric acid levels.
- Water – Proper water consumption has been linked to fewer gout attacks.
- Fats – Cut back on saturated fats (red meats, fatty poultry and high-fat dairy products)
- Complex Carbs – Reach for more fruits, veggies and whole grains, which provide complex carbs. Avoid foods such as white bread, cakes, candy, soda and high-fructose corn syrup.
Your doctor may order tests such as blood work to measure the amount of uric acid in your blood. Based on the results, your doctor can prescribe an appropriate treatment plan for you.
If you feel you have signs and symptoms of gout, see a physician to be properly diagnosed.
The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.