Diet and Nutrition

Living with Gout

Living with Gout

Key Takeaways

  • Gout is characterized by sudden pain, swelling, and stiffness of the affected joints. 
  • The most common symptom is a sharp pain that occurs at night on the big toe.
  • The build up of the uric acid can damage the joints permanently. 

Due to excessive uric acid in the blood, the solution solidifies and creates crystals in the joints, leading to gout. The condition is characterized by sudden pain in the joints, as well as swelling and stiffness of the affected joints. The most common symptom is a sharp pain that occurs in your big toe and is accompanied by swelling and tenderness of the same toe.

As the uric acid continues to build up, it can eventually damage the joints permanently, which is why it’s important to stop the problem. Although there is no cure for gout, various measures can be taken that can help the affected person live a healthy and normal life. This involves attacking the problem with medication, as well as preventing symptoms through lifestyle changes.

Medication

Acute gout attacks can cause very severe pain in the joints of the body, disabling the affected person. 

Medications are prescribed for different purposes:

  • Medication for pain and inflammation relief.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) - Gout is usually accompanied by swelling and tenderness, and these medications help to reduce the swelling.
  • Corticosteroids - These can either be taken orally or injected directly into the infected joints to reduce the pain quickly. A common drug used for this purpose is prednisone. If many joints are affected, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) can be injected, which stimulates the body to produce corticosteroids naturally.
  • Colchicine - Also a pain reliever, it is much more effective for severe gout attacks although it has some undesirable side effects like nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.
  • Medication to reduce uric acid levels - By reducing the levels of uric acid in the blood, gout can be curbed to prevent the condition from advancing. Some of these medications include allopurinol, febuxostat, probenecid, and pegloticase. The initial changes in uric acid levels may cause some undesirable effects, but sticking to the medication will eventually relieve the symptoms.

Lifestyle Changes

Various dietary changes and exercise regimes can prevent gout attacks and prevent the condition from worsening.

Managing gout attacks

  • Compression by using a towel of ice directly on the joint and elevating it will reduce pain
  • Relax and calm yourself down after an attack and wait for the pain to subside
  • Avoid physical activities for the moment

Dietary choices

These foods will help to lower the levels of uric acid and prevent the condition from advancing:

  • vitamin c supplements
  • whole grain foods
  • low-fat dairy products and skim milk
  • vegetables
  • caffeine
  • some fruits (those that are less sweet)

What to avoid

  • red meat
  • shellfish, like shrimp and lobster
  • sugary beverages and sodas
  • excessive alcohol

Physical activity

Losing weight through exercise helps both to reduce uric acid levels in the blood and at the same time preventing other common problems like heart disease and stroke which are common among those with gout. Getting into it can be quite difficult, though, and you should set realistic goals and appropriate exercises.