Health Concerns & Diseases

The Problem with Gout

Do you have a problem with gout? Well, if your answer is no, I would say you are blessed! I happen to have a problem with it. Now, in case you share my problem, perhaps this article will help you. According to Mayo Clinic: “Gout is characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, redness and tenderness in joints, often the joint at the base of the big toe.” Wikipedia lists it as a “medical condition usually characterized by recurrent attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis—a red, tender, hot, swollen joint.” Gout is also referred to as gouty arthritis.

Here’s a piece of trivia: Gout was historically known as “the disease of kings” or “rich man’s disease”. 🙂

Causes and Risk Factors. High levels of uric acid in the blood (hyperuricemia) is the underlying cause of gout. And now for some risk factors:

1) Lifestyle factors. The choice we make everyday may actually increase our risk of gout. For instance, high alcohol use can increase the risk of gout (more than than 2 drinks a day for men and more than one for women).

I would also include here the kind of food we consume (our diet). Our body produces uric acid when it breaks down purines. Purines are natural substances found in all of the body’s cells and apparently in all foods but certain foods contain high amounts of purines. Understandably, our high consumption of these foods would mean more purine in our system and thus more production of uric acid as well.

Various studies indicate that “dietary causes account for about 12% of gout and include a strong association with the consumption of alcohol, fructose-sweetened drinks, meat, and seafood.”

2. Medical conditions. Certain diseases as well as conditions make it more likely for somebody to develop gout. Studies point out “untreated high blood pressure (hypertension)  as well as chronic conditions such as diabetes, high levels of fat and cholesterol in the blood (hyperlipidemia), and narrowing of the arteries (arteriosclerosis)” as risk factors for gout.

3. Certain medications. Mayo clinic points out as risk factors the “use of thiazide diuretics — commonly used to treat hypertension — and low-dose aspirin also can increase uric acid levels” as well as the use of anti-rejection drugs (used by people who have undergone an organ transplant).

4. Family history of gout. You are more likely to develop the disease if a member of your family has it. In my case, my father had gout while he was still alive. Although I must say that my diet needs changing as well 🙂

5. Age and sex. Gout occurs more often in men. But as women age, they could also have it.

Treatment and Prevention. For treatment, you need to consult a doctor. I was advised to take some medication to treat gout. But I must add here that lifestyle and dietary changes can go a long way to keep our joints pain-free and healthy 🙂

1. Avoid or limit consumption of high purine foods. Below are lists of foods with high and moderately high purine levels.

Foods with high purine levels (up to 1,000 mg per 3.5 ounce serving): Anchovies, Brains, Gravies, Kidneys,Liver, Sardines, Sweetbreads.

Foods with high and moderately high purine levels (5-100 mg per 3.5 ounce serving): Asparagus, Bacon, Beef, Bluefish, Bouillon, Calf tongue, Carp, Cauliflower, Chicken, Chicken soup, Codfish, Crab, Duck, Goose, Halibut, Ham, Kidney beans, Lamb, Lentils, Lima beans, Lobster, Mushrooms, Mutton, Navy beans, Oatmeal, Oysters, Peas, Perch, Pork, Rabbit, Salmon, Sheep, Shellfish, Snapper, Spinach, Tripe, Trout, Tuna, Turkey, Veal, Venison


2. Consumption of coffee, vitamin C and dairy products (such as milk) appear to decrease the risk of gout.

3. Physical fitness appear to decrease the risk as well. Now, this is a timely reminder for us to keep fit and do some exercise 🙂

4. Use of cinnamon and apple cider. My friend has told me that cinnamon has helped bring relief for her father from gout. I have also read that apple cider could also be very helpful. I am yet to try these two 🙂  But you might want to explore more on these.

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