What Is Gout? And How You Can Best Treat It
Gout is one condition that doesn’t get a lot of attention as most people these days are more concerned with things like heart disease, stroke, or diabetes, but yet, gout is one condition that you absolutely must not ignore. Currently on the rise in western society, gout is a painful condition that is in the same family of illnesses as arthritis. When you suffer from gout, it’s because you have high levels of uric acid building up in the body. This uric acid goes on to form crystals in the joints, which then leads to great pain whenever you’re moving and can also lead to inflammation.
Gout may not impact the entire body right away, but slowly your body will get worse and worse and pain will continue to occur.
Those who treat their gout symptoms can go on to lead a healthy pain-free life most of the time. While those who do not may find they are in pain constantly for much of their lifetime.
As gout continues to progress, you’ll likely find that when it does attack, the attacks become more painful, last longer, and are harder to manage. This is why early treatment and prevention is key.
On top of all this, those who suffer from gout are more likely to also experience other illnesses as well including both cancer and heart disease.
So what are some of the signs and symptoms that you may be suffering from gout and what can you do to treat those? And what causes it? Let’s take a closer look.
The Causes Of Gout
Before we discuss the signs and symptoms that you are suffering from gout, let’s take a quick look at some of the causes behind it. Why are you dealing with this condition in the first place?
The increase in obesity and the lifestyle that supports it, is what doctors currently believe is behind the greater onset of gout attacks.
We are seeing people eat more foods that are rich in purines, which is known to contribute to gout related issues such as beef, seafood, alcohol, legumes, as well as high fructose containing foods.
This also leads to high blood pressure, which can be a risk factor for gout as well. From there, dehydration is also another cause of gout and those who are suffering from dehydration may not have as much lubrication over their joints either, doubling the pain they experience.
Diabetes is yet another leading cause behind developing gout as many gout patients are also diabetic as well. Keeping your AIC numbers as low as possible if you are someone who is dealing with diabetes will be critical to preventing ongoing gout attacks.
Those who are suffering from or have suffered from heart disease may also be at a higher risk for gout as well. This is typically due to the fact that the same foods that cause heart disease may also lead to gout, so the two go hand in hand.
Certain medications may also lead to a higher likelihood of developing gout as well. For instance, taking diuretics, aspirin, or cyclosporine may also boost your chances of having gout related symptoms.
Finally, this condition does have genetic underpinnings, so don’t discount the fact that if your mother, father, sister, brother, or extended family suffered from gout, there is a higher chance that you may be suffering as well.
The good news is that many of these factors are 100% completely controllable, so by making some changes to your lifestyle, which we’ll discuss shortly, may allow you to be able to put gout pain behind you.
Signs You May Be Suffering From Gout
Most people don’t even realize they have gout until it reaches a point where it’s so significant that they just can’t go on and need to get checked. You may have achy joints to begin with so when they worsen, you don’t realize that this is what’s taking place.
In other people, the first sign that gout is present is a sudden onset of full blown symptoms and they are in so much pain they can hardly walk. The pain in some people will go away on its own and only occur infrequently after that. Others will notice the pain lasts for weeks, or months if not addressed and then continue to come and go on a regular basis. Usually though, the pain is greatest during the initial attack, which lasts 1-2 days.
Where do you typically feel gout the most? As odd as it may seem, the number one spot where gout is likely to strike is your big toe. So if you are going about your day (or night) and then notice great pain in your big toe throbbing, don’t take this lightly. It could be a sign that something more significant is on the way.
Some of the other signs that you should keep your eyes open to include (1):
- Great levels of pain impacting all the major joints in the body including the feet, ankles, knees, hips, and the wrists. Some people may also experience great hand pain to the point where they can’t even lift a sheet off the bed in order to make it.
- Discoloration of the joints. Some people’s joints will turn a purplish color when they are being impacted by gout.
- Joints that look noticeably swollen and may feel very warm.
- A fever that may or may not be accompanied by chills.
- Decreased ability to move through a full range of motion.
- Inflammation that can last in the body for weeks or even months.
- Hard lumps that one can feel when touching the joints.
If left untreated, gout can go on to form rheumatoid arthritis in some patients, so once again, treatment is key. If you are having an attack, seeing a doctor is a must. Don’t just try and treat this naturally without getting professional medical assistance. Sometimes there can be other issues at play and a doctor should give you a full medical work-up.
From there, you can decide if you want to go ahead with conventional treatment methods or try and self-treat it on your own using natural strategies.
All of the medical treatment interventions will involve drugs including things like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). While generally considered safe, these drugs aren’t designed to be taken for a prolonged period of time. Taking these drugs can also cause issues such as stomach ulcers in some people (an equally painful condition!), along with corticosteroids, xanthine oxidase inhibitors, and other drugs, all of which will definitely come with a list of side effects.
The large number of potential side effects from these medications is one of the big reasons why many people tend to lean towards going the natural route, so they can hopefully help combat their gout symptoms while feeling comfortable and at ease.
Managing Your Gout
So what’s the best way to properly manage your gout? One of the most beneficial things you can do is start making changes to your diet. Diet is the leading contributor of gout, many professionals believe, so starting there is a great place.
Here are some foods that you want to start eating.
Cheer For Cherries
This sweet treat is going to offer excellent results for helping you better manage gout symptoms. In one study, researchers found that when gout sufferers consumed both cherries as well as allopurinol, the risk of suffering from gout was 75% less than when they didn’t have cherries (2).
This is because cherries may help to lower inflammation levels and even promote a healthier body weight through their high fiber content, which can then lead to decreased risk factor for gout symptoms.
Cup Of Coffee
Need another reason to down a cup of coffee in the morning? This might just be it. Coffee has shown (3) to help lower the total uric acid in the body which can then help to decrease the intensity in which you experience gout related symptoms.
Sensitive to caffeine? Not to worry. It doesn’t matter whether you’re drinking regular coffee or decaf, you’ll get a similar effect.
Get Your Vitamin C
Another must-do is to consider either eating foods that have a high vitamin C content or else supplementing with vitamin C. Vitamin C is relatively easy to get into your diet plan, but do keep in mind that because it’s a water soluble vitamin, you need to consume it daily in order to maintain optimal levels.
Otherwise, it just washes out of the body. Each day, you start fresh in terms of needing to get those requirements met.
Some foods that are high in vitamin C content include any fruit or vegetable that’s brightly colored. Strawberries, raspberries, mangos, red peppers, and kale are all excellent sources.
Turn To Tumeric
Some people also find that serving turmeric in their dishes more often is a great way to better manage gout. Turmeric is one of those spices that is almost good for everything, so you’ll definitely want to get this into your diet plan. It’s also known to help alleviate inflammation, so it’s another one that is quickly associated with quick relief from gout.
In order to really benefit from turmeric though, you should aim to eat it on a regular basis so that you can always keep gout levels under control.
Avoid Purine Rich Foods
Another must-do to help you better manage your gout is to avoid purine rich foods at all costs (4). Purine rich foods are what lead to the onset of gout in the first place, so they are some of the direct offenders.
Some examples of foods that are rich in purines include beef, sweetbreads, mussels, anchovies, herring, mackerel, spinach, asparagus, beans, lentils, mushrooms, and dried peas.
The more often you an keep these foods out of your diet, the better off you’re going to be.
Certain allergens may also be associated with increased levels of gout as well including dairy, wheat (gluten containing foods), as well as corn. If you know that you are sensitive to these substances, this is just another reason that you’ll want to ensure that you are avoiding them at all costs.
Another important part of keeping gout symptoms at bay is to ensure that you are staying as hydrated as possible. Dehydration can lead to gout and can make everything in your body not run as optimally as it should, so you should be paying special attention to keeping yourself as hydrated as possible at all times.
Supplement With Fish Oil
One supplement you’ll want to consider looking into is fish oil. Fish oil is great for so many areas of your health that if you aren’t already supplementing, you’re definitely missing out so get on that as soon as possible.
Fish oil contains the important omega-3 fatty acids that the body needs for optimal functioning and will help to decrease inflammation all throughout the body.
As inflammation is one of the main factors linked to pain when dealing with gout, obviously the better you can control that inflammation, the less chances you’ll have of gout occurring again.
Consider Digestive Enzymes
It’s also important that you are considering supplementing with digestive enzymes as well, such as MassZymes. This will not only help to enhance the breakdown of all the foods mentioned above, ensuring that you are able to utilize the nutrients they provide optimally to help minimize your symptoms of gout, but also because digestive enzymes have also been shown to help reduce uric acid formation in the body and may also help to bring down inflammation further.
While you can get naturally occurring digestive enzymes from foods such as pineapple, remember that these are hard to come by and most people aren’t eating them on a daily basis.
This is why supplementation is a much easier strategy. This way you can be rest assured you’ve always had precisely what you needed.
Get Regular Exercise
Another thing that’s important to do if you are someone who’s suffering from gout is to get regular exercise. Many people overlook the value that regular exercise provides by ensuring that you are moving, you can help keep your joints healthier, minimize the total amount of stress and strain on the joints, and help keep lubrication up.
The only caveat? You need to exercise wisely. Too much of the wrong exercise can make things worse as it can put more pressure and stress on the joints, leading to greater inflammation and aggravating your pain.
Your best bet is to perform exercises that are the least stressful on the joints. Good options include swimming, weight lifting (contrary to what you may think, if you do this exercise properly, it does not need to be extremely taxing on the joints), yoga, and cycling.
Walking can be okay if you aren’t in pre-existing pain, but because walking is very weight baring, if you are already experiencing pain, you may decide this one isn’t your best bet and isn’t for you.
Running is even worse for this, so it’s a good idea that all gout sufferers avoid running if at all possible.
So there you have some of the important details to know and remember regarding gout – what causes it, how to know if you have it, and how to best to manage it if it is something that is nagging at you and potentially leading you to suffer in pain.
It’s good that gout is something that is highly manageable through lifestyle changes, meaning there is no reason that you have to suffer like you are. It may involve making grand scale adjustments in order to see and feel a difference. For instance, losing a significant amount of weight, controlling diabetes and combating heart disease are all things that you can do if you really want to.
And for most people, when gout symptoms build, they really want to.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can trigger an attack of gout?
Many things can trigger an attack but some of the main ones are alcohol, high purine foods, drinking soda, or letting yourself become too dehydrated.
What’s the first sign of gout?
Everyone will react differently however most people notice an onset of pain and warm, swollen joints.
What is the best thing to take for gout?
Ideally you’ll want to take anti-inflammatory medicine coupled with natural relief strategies such as cherries, digestive enzymes, and fish oil.
How can you lower your uric acid levels and gout?
To help lower uric acid levels, decrease your body weight, eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, avoid dairy and gluten, and try not to consume too much red meat.
2. Zhang, Yuqing, et al. “Cherry consumption and decreased risk of recurrent gout attacks.” Arthritis & Rheumatism 64.12 (2012): 4004-4011.
3. Choi, Hyon K. “A prescription for lifestyle change in patients with hyperuricemia and gout.” Current opinion in rheumatology22.2 (2010): 165-172.
4. Zhang, Yuqing, et al. “Purine-rich foods intake and recurrent gout attacks.” Annals of the rheumatic diseases (2012): annrheumdis-2011.
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