What Is Gout?
Gout is actually a type of arthritis and it is estimated that 1 million people in the UK are affected by gout. It typically affects joints in the hand and feet and approximately 70% of people are affected by gout in their big toe when experiencing gout for the first time. However, gout can affect any joint of the body and is often felt in the knees, elbows and wrists. It can also affect more than one joint at a time.
What are the symptoms of Gout?
Gout typically comes on quickly and is characterised by:
- Severe pain and tenderness to the joint(s)
- Red and shiny skin over the affected area
- Swelling to the affected joint
How long will an attack last?
An attack will typically develop within a few hours and the attack will usually last between three to ten days
What causes gout?
Purines are a chemical that is found naturally in the food we eat. When the body breaks down these purines, uric acid is formed. If the uric acid concentration in our body becomes too high then small uric acid crystals are formed and a gout attack will follow if these crystals get into one or more of our joints.
What causes an increase in the uric acid?
Uric acid in lower concentrations will normally remain dissolved in our blood until it is passed into our urine via the kidneys for excretion. However, there are factors that can increase the amount of uric acid in your blood and therefore increase the risk of developing gout.
- Around 1 in 5 sufferers will have a family history
- Certain medications may increase the risk
- High cholesterol
- Reduced kidney function
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- High risk foods
How to help prevent Attacks of Gout
There are a few ways to help prevent an attack of gout:
- Medication prescribed by your GP may help prevent further attacks
- Managing your weight. Reducing your weight will help reduce the risks of getting gout but take care not to lose weight too quickly as this may actually increase the risk of an attack of gout. Also consider your diet plan carefully as some plans are high protein low carb diets and proteins derived from meat are naturally high in purines.
- Drink plenty of water. Aim to drink at least 6-8 glasses of water a day, approximately 1.5 litres, to help eliminate the uric acid from your kidneys.
- Avoid or reduce the high risk foods
So what are the High Risk Foods?
If you are susceptible to gout by avoiding or moderating the higher risk foods listed below you will play a key role in reducing your risk of an attack.
Meat especially: pork, beef, lamb, bacon, veal, venison, turkey, goose, partridge and pheasant. Chicken or duck are less risky.
Offal such as: heart, liver and kidney.
The following fish: herring, sardines, mackerel, mussels, scallops and anchovies. Other fish are lower in purines and therefore a better option.
Food or supplements that are high in yeast.
Sugary drinks. Drinks that contain corn syrup have a high fructose content and this stimulates uric acid production in the body. Diet drinks are a better option.
Certain vegetables are naturally higher in purines and are listed. However, there have been studies that indicate that even these vegetables carry no significant increased risk. In conclusion, avoiding these vegetables during an attack is certainly worth considering and moderating these will certainly do no harm.
High purine vegetables include Asparagus, cauliflower, spinach, peas and mushrooms.
Alcohol: Beer and stout and spirits are best avoided. Wine in moderation is a better option but still best avoided during an attack.
You should always seek a medical diagnosis and confirmation that you are suffering from gout especially if you have not suffered from gout previously or have a raised temperature. A raised temperature in the presence of joint pain may not be gout and could be a more serious condition such as a joint infection which also requires medical treatment.
If you have found this article helpful please share it with your network, it only takes a few seconds to do and I’d really appreciate it.