Gout and Alcohol: Symptoms, Treatment and Home Remedies

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About Gout

Gout comes from the Latin word gutta and the old French gote, meaning “a drop.” Hundreds of years ago gout was believed to be caused by viscous humor (sticky body fluids) that leaked from the blood and into the joints.

Gout is a complex disorder, the proverbial pain in the....joints of man since time immemorial.There are many myths about gout.

The condition was once known as “the disease of Kings” this myth took root because historically, gout only appeared to affect the rich. The gentry, people with money and influence were the ones who could best afford to eat a diet rich in foods associated with gout.

Some people believed that gout was handed down by God as divine punishment for an immoral lifestyle.

Drinking alcohol and eating rich food are closely associated with gout. However; gout can be caused by other factors such as genetics, and does not discriminate between saints and sinners. Pope Pius and Pope Clement Xll are both known to have suffered from this condition.

Hippocrates wrote about gout, as far back as the 5th-century BC, where he related the condition to excessive alcohol use and rich foods.

Many notable historical figures are known to have suffered from gout; they include; Queen Victoria, Queen Ann, Alexander the Great, Charlemagne, Columbus, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, William Waldorf Astor, Benjamin Disraeli and Bluff King Hal himself, Henry Vlll.

King Henry Vlll, was famously plagued by gout, the portly Tudor king known for his excesses and many wives, is seen as the quintessential image of typical gout suffer. However; times have changed, almost everyone can now eat like ancient kings. Almost everyone in the industrial world now has access to the rich diet of red meat, seafood and alcohol that research shows can increase uric acid levels in the body to cause gout. The prevalence of gout has increased in recent years; it currently affects 1.4% of the adult population. Research shows that 8.3 million adults in the US suffer from gout.

What Causes Gout Attack

Gout is inflammatory arthritis caused by crystallization of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is a waste product created when the body breaks down the protein compound known as purines.

Uric acid is excreted mostly by the kidneys. When the body produces too much uric acid, or the kidneys are unable to excrete sufficient amounts of uric acid efficiently; this can result in a build up of tiny needle-sharp crystals in and around joints. Gout usually affects the joints of the big toe, but can develop in any joint.

The hard, sharp crystals can accumulate over several years without noticeable symptoms.

Some of it may spill over into the soft tissue and the joint lining (synovium) to cause the pain and inflammation associated with gout.

Gout is a common type of arthritis, it is painful and can affect the joints of both men and women, it is the most common inflammatory arthritis occurring in men. Women are protected from gout by the production of the female hormone 'oestrogen' when young; oestrogen increases the excretion of uric acid through the kidneys to reduce levels in the body.

However; uric acid levels increase after the menopause, and women become more liable to getting the condition at this time of life.

Symptoms of gout

The most common symptoms of gout are often a sudden and severe pain in the affected joint which can include:

  • Swelling and warmth in and around affected area
  • Inflamed red shiny skin
  • itchy, peeling flaky skin over the affected area, as the inflammation recedes
  • Mild fever in some cases

Where gout recurs over an extended period, further symptoms may occur. A firm white lump develops beneath the skin. These lumps are made of uric crystals and are known as tophi, which can become inflamed and painful. Tophi can breakdown to leak a white paste like substance.

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Facts about Gout

  • Everyone is potentially at risk from gout

  • Rarely seen in men before adolescence

  • Rarely seen in women before the menopause

  • Estrogen protects women from developing gout before menopause

  • An elevated uric acid level does not necessarily mean that an individual has gout

  • Uric acid levels can be normal during a gout attack

    Medication can contribute to gout include, Diuretics, Immunosuppressant drugs, Theophylline, Methyldopa, Acetylsalicylic such as Aspirin, some Antibiotics, excessive use of over the counter medication like niacin (B-vitamin) Ascorbic acid (vitamin C)

  • Alcohol use can increase the risk of gout


Food Associated with causing Gout

Alcohol and Gout

Although there was much anecdotal evidence connecting alcohol use to gout, there are now medical studies that verify the link between gout and alcohol use.

In a study published in the Lancet medical journal, 47,000 male medical professionals with no history of gout were followed over a period of up to 12 years. When the study ended, researchers found that almost 2% of the men had had an attack of gout.

Men who drank the most alcohol daily had twice the risk of developing gout, as the men who did not drink alcohol.

Beer drinkers increased their risk by 50% for every daily serving, while those who drank hard liquor increased their risk by 15% for each drink. Men who drank wine did not appear to increase their risk for gout. However, this result was somewhat inconclusive since few men had more than two glasses of wine daily.

Beer not only increases the uric acid levels, but it also makes it hard for the body to clear the build up of uric acid from the system, wine is a safer option. But heavy alcohol use can harm the body, doctors will usually recommend that gout suffers abstain from drinking alcohol during a flare of gout altogether.

While sea foods are often the healthy choice in most diets, when it comes to gout, some sea foods are best left off the menu. Foods such as sardines, fish roe, mussels, scallops, herring, tuna, and anchovies.

Red meat, turkey, goose and wild game are higher in purine content than other types of food. Therefore; gout suffers should try to keep their intake to a minimum, according to rheumatologists.

Surgery drinks that are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup like non-diet sodas and fruit drinks should be avoided, as they can stimulate the body to produce more uric acid.

Research has shown, drinking fructose-sweetened drinks every day, compared to drinking one a month increases the risk of gout in women.

Asparagus, cauliflower, spinach, and mushrooms are all higher in purine than other vegetables, and although need not be avoided entirely, should be used sparingly.

Liver, kidneys, and sweetbread should be completely avoided.

Gout Attack Treatment

The treatment plan for gout consists of two primary goals

  1. Relieving the symptoms of the gout attack

  2. Preventing further attacks

During a gout attack, certain self-caring techniques may help to relieve some of the symptoms.

Rest is necessary, the affected limb can be elevated, care should be taken to avoid accidentally knocking or damaging the limb.

Keep joint cool by applying the ice pack, however, there are two schools of thought about cold compress. Warm heat should not be used on swollen joint, as this can worsen the inflammation.


Some Low Purine Food for Gout diet

  • Eggs, nuts, peanut butter
  • Low-fat cheese
  • Skim milk
  • Soup made without meat extract or broth
  • Vegetables low in purine, like artichokes, broccoli, sprouts, cabbage, carrots, celery, cucumber, eggplant, tomatoes, pumpkins to name but a few.
  • Fruits and fruit juices (not sweetened with fructose)
  • Bread, pasta, rice, corn bread,
  • coffee
  • All fruits but particularly cherries

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Treatment for Gout

Medication

Initial treatment for gout usually consists of pain relieving drugs such as a non-steroidal-anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) which work by reducing the pain and inflammation and include:

  • Diclofenac

  • Indometacin

  • Naproxen

When NSAID medication are prescribed for an attack of gout, it should be kept close at hand.

The medication should be taken throughout the attack, and for 48 hours after the attack has ended.

NSAID should be taken with a Proton pump inhibitor (PPI) this will reduce the possibility of the drugs causing gastric problems like indigestion, bleeding, and stomach ulcers.

People with poor or reduced kidney function, with stomach ulcers or bleeding, should not take NSAIDs.

Colchicine

This drug can be used as an alternative for NSAID, it is derived from autumn crocus plant. Colchicine is not a painkiller; it works by reducing the ability of the uric acid crystals to inflame the joint lining to reduce some of the inflammation and pain associated with gout. Colchicine should be used in low doses, it can cause nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhoea.

Corticosteroids

This is a type of steroid that are sometimes used to treat severe cases of gout that is resistant to other treatment. A short course can give relief, but should only be used in the short term as they can cause major side effects.

Preventing Gout Attack

The prevention of a gout attack consists of two methods, medication and lifestyle changes:

  • Medication is used to reduce uric acid levels, the main treatment for gout is urate-lowering therapy (ULT). The aim of this treatment is to reduce the levels of uric acid to below a level required for the formation of crystals; this is its saturated point. To lessen the frequency of attack, treatment should be started as soon as a diagnosis is made. The benefits and disadvantages should be discussed with GPs or health care providers. The medication that is often tried first is allopurinol that helps to lower uric acid levels by inhibiting the enzyme responsible for converting purines into uric acid. Allopurinol is not a painkiller and will have no effect on pain during a gout attack. However; taken once daily, it can take up to two years before all the crystals are dissolved.

  • Lifestyle changes

  • Avoid foods high in purines; uric acid levels can be reduced by avoiding frequent or large quantities of foods that are high in purine content. Individuals who are overweight or obese often have high levels of uric acid in the blood. Losing weight by following a well-balanced calorie-controlled diet, can help to reduce uric acid levels quite significantly, joints will also benefit from the reduced stress.

  • Regular exercise can help to reduce uric acid levels and thereby reduces the risk of gout.

    Water to maintain hydration, 6 to 8 glasses of water is the daily recommendation, more if also exercising.

  • Avoid some types of alcohol, beer, and stout contains high quantities of purine, wine in moderation doesn't seem to increase the risk of gout. However, binge drinking of any type of alcohol can cause an attack in people who have had an episode of gout.

Home Remedies for Gout

  • Exercise helps to reduce uric acid in people suffering from gout by normalizing insulin.

  • Cherries or cherry extract, studies from 2012, suggests that people with gout who eat cherries over a two-day period showed a lower risk of gout attack by 35%, When compared to those who did not eat cherries. Findings from this study that was published in a journal of the American College of Rheumatism suggests, that the risk of gout flares, was 75% lower when cherries were consumed in combination with uric acid reducing drugs like allopurinol, than in periods without exposure to cherries or treatment. Eating 10 to 12 cherries per day may help to prevent gout flares.

  • Baking Soda solution, can help to reduce uric acid in the body. Do not use if taking medication for high blood pressure, discuss all medication with your doctor.

  • Ginger Root, eaten raw in small pieces or cooked, can also help to relieve inflammation and pain. Also, effective used as a paste and applied to the affected joint.

  • Vitamin C, evidence shows, vitamin C can reduce uric acid.

  • Apple Cider Vinegar can help to reduce inflammation and relieve acute gout pain.

  • Lemon Juice contributes to neutralizing the excess uric acid, can be taken with baking soda.

  • Apple and apple juice can help to neutralize uric acid.

  • Beet juice prevents acidosis, stimulates the liver to cleanse bile ducts.

  • Epsom salt in a warm bath, can help to relieve pain, and contains magnesium for a healthy heart.

  • Activated Charcoal can absorb uric acid in the treatment of gout.

  • Bananas' high potassium content can help to convert uric acid crystals into the liquid that can be excreted and flushed from the body by the kidneys.

Facts about Gout

  • Everyone is at risk of developing gout

  • Rarely seen in men before adolescence

  • Rarely seen in women before the menopause

  • Estrogen protects women from developing gout before menopause

  • An elevated uric acid level do not necessarily mean that an individual has gout

  • Uric acid levels can be normal during a gout attack

    Medication can contribute to gout, and include, diuretics, immunosuppressive drugs, theophylline for asthma, methyldopa, acetylsalicylic such as aspirin, some antibiotics, excessive use of over the counter medication like niacin (B-vitamin) ascorbic acid (vitamin C)

  • Alcohol use can increase the risk of gout.



Conclusion

Gout is associated with other health problems such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and uric acid kidney stones. Although gout is partly due to genetics and may not be entirely preventable, the occurrence and severity of flare-ups can be reduced with proper management. It is imperative to work closely with your doctor and other health care providers to manage any health issues.

This article is only an overview of the condition of Gout; the information should not be used in place of medical advice.

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25 comments

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

I would sure give up those bad foods to avoid this! How horrible. This will make me take my water consumption more serious too! ^


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Audrey, gout is not a pleasant condition, not something I would want to have to deal with at any rate. Thank you for taking a look, it's always a pleasure to see you.

Take care and my very best to you.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 3 years ago from California

Such a wonderful article Jo! I know a few people who suffer from gout and it seems so painful for them


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Nell, I've always associated gout with old men who are red in the face from drinking too much port...some suffers don't even drink alcohol but still get the condition.....you're right about the crystals, glad you found the hub interesting, and thank you very much for the great comment and share. Take care and my best to you.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

I always wondered what Gout was, I thought it was something to do with crystals in the body but had no idea what it meant! lol! interesting stuff, and thanks! voted up and shared, nell


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Frank, nice to see you!...thanks for stopping by, much appreciated.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

Tobusiness this was very informative and you covered so much on Gout and Alcohol.. great dou-hub my friend :)


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hello kulewriter, thank you for stopping by with this insightful comment.. it's always very interesting to learn about personal experiences. Good to know you're feeling better, and that the cherries helped. Take care and my best to you.


kulewriter profile image

kulewriter 3 years ago from Florida

Really thorough Hub and well done, too! I recently went through my first bout with gout and I wouldn't wish how it feels upon anyone. Painful! But cherries, cherry extract and diet changes, along with reflexology massages made a quick difference. The weirdest part was how my skin peeled off over the site of the gout on my right foot like rice paper after the swelling was gone!


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Devika, thanks for stopping by and for the great comment, I'm so glad you found this useful. My best to you and hope you're having a lovely weekend.


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Great hub, informative and useful gout is painful and you did such an interesting research to inform us readers of this topic, something I have been wondering about a few days ago when a friend of ours was talking about a sore joint, now I have learned so much more on gout thanks


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Faith, always good to see your lovely smiling face....sorry to hear that your father suffered from this very painful condition. Some people say that the pain is as bad as giving birth.

Thank you for this insightful comment I hope you're enjoying this wonderful Sunday. My best to you.

JO.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Wow, Jo,

A most informative and comprehensive hub here on gout. My daddy who stood well over 6'3 had the gout in his big toe, and the pain was so bad he almost cried, and I believe he did at times. Now, he did drink and ate the hottest of hot peppers around. The images here help to show the immense pain of gout. It is something one truly never wants to have in one's lifetime.

I almost missed this one for some reason, but I am glad I did not.

Voted up +++ and sharing (must!)

Awesome!

Hugs and love, Faith Reaper


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Martin, yeh... I kinda got carried away, it's a beast of a hub without a doubt. :)

Thank you for taking the time, always appreciated.


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 3 years ago from San Francisco

Wuh, this was a lot of information. Thank you for this.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Rose, sounds like it could be genetics......sometime life just sucks, all the pain and none of the fun. :)

Thank you so much for taking a look and for the insightful comment, always appreciated and my best to you.

Have a lovely week end.


rose-the planner profile image

rose-the planner 3 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

Hello Jo, another excellent health related article! I thought the link between alcohol and gout very interesting. You listed some great tips on treating gout. My father suffered terribly from gout although he definitely was not a drinker. One of my brothers now has bouts of painful gout as well. He also does not drink but there are so many other possible causes as you mentioned. All I know is that it is extremely unpleasant and painful. Thank you for sharing. (Voted Up) -Rose


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hello sjkhan, thank you so much for stopping by. A single comment like this, makes it all worth the effort. Glad I was able to help and my best to you.


sjkhan profile image

sjkhan 3 years ago from Pakistan

Very well written and informative hub! Few days back I was trying to figure out what exactly this decease is called and what are its symptoms ,but couldn't find it.

Your hub helped me a lot! Thanks for sharing,voted up.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi kashmir, thank you my friend for this welcome visit, and also for the share and comment. So glad you found the hub useful. I hope you are well and looking forward to a lovely week end, my best to you as always.

Jo.


kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 3 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi my friend, very interesting and well researched and very informative article with much useful information within this well written hub .

Vote up and more !!! Sharing !


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Bill, there's an angel on your shoulder!...I'm glad there are no lasting damages done, looks like you came to your senses at the right time, and all of us who have come to know you are thankful for that.

Bill, always a pleasure, I know you'll be having a great week end, my best to you and Bev.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K Author

Hi Joelle, thank you for the visit and this fabulous comment.... I'm glad you found it useful and interesting. Our female hormones protects us from heart disease also, unfortunately after the menopause all bets are off. The risk factor becomes the same as for men. Isn't nature wonderful? :) Thanks once again for taking a look, my very best to you and have a wonderful week end.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Wow, Jo, you know your stuff. Amazingly I never knew what gout was, although I have heard of it my entire lifetime. With my history of alcoholism I guess I'm darn lucky I don't have this horrible disease. Thank you for the education in a language I can easily understand.

blessings always to you and yours

bill


kidscrafts profile image

kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

Wouaw! Another great medical hub, Jo! I love the way you present each of the medical subject. I already heard before that gout can be quite painful but I never saw pictures of the areas that could be affected.... just to look at it, I can feel the pain for someone else!

Too bad that to feel better people have to restrain themselves in some great vegetables!

I didn't know that estrogen protects women from developing gout before menopause!

Definitely, voted up and super interesting!

Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge and explaining it so well!

Have a great weekend!

Joelle

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