- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
How to Treat, Prevent and Control Gout Flare-ups Naturally
What is Gout?
Gout is PAINFUL - - VERY PAINFUL.It has been likened to having a bone crushed or natural childbirth that doesn't end.
It is a common form of inflammatory arthritis; and is sometimes called "gouty arthritis". It is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis in men over 40 years, but it can affect both men and women of any age.
Gout often first occurs in the joint connecting the big toe to the foot (the metacarpal-phalangeal joint), but can occur in any other joint as well. Left untreated gout often spreads and increased in severity with each flare up.
Gout has been known since ancient times, and is one of the oldest documented illnesses. Hippocrates called it “the disease of kings” because of its association with a rich diet. Although there is a connection with diet, there are a number of other factors that can lead to gout.
Gout is caused by needle-like crystals of Uric Acid which are deposited in the soft tissues and/or in the fluid that cushions a joint (the synovial fluid). Uric acid a substance produced when the body breaks down purines found in human tissue and many foods we eat. Most uric acid is carried through the bloodstream to the kidneys, which eliminate it from the body in the urine. However, if the body produces too much uric acid or if the kidneys don't eliminate enough of it, uric acid can build up in the blood. This condition is called hyperuricemia and can lead to gout attacks in some people, but not all. In many cases, hyperuricemia does not lead to gout.
An attack usually starts with sudden, severe pain, tenderness,
redness, warmth, and swelling in the large joint of the big toe. Other
joints may include the instep, ankles, heels, knees, wrists, fingers,
and elbows. Rarely, the shoulders, hips, or spine may be affected.
After about 3-10 days, the attack usually subsides, and the next one
may not happen for months or even years. But over time, the gout
attacks can become more severe, last longer, affect more than one
joint, and occur more often. Even though the gout may not be showing itself in a flare up, don't believe that it has "gone away". Gout is a chronic conditions that must be treated on an on-going basis.
Gout can progress, eventually causing damage to joints, potentially leading to disability. However, with proper treatment, most people with gout are able to control their symptoms. Treatment may include different kinds of medication to ease the painful attacks, to prevent future attacks, and to help prevent long-term damage to the joints and related disability.
What Causes Gout?
Gout can attack anyone of any age. Most commonly, it affects men three times as often as it does women. With the most likely candidate to be a man over 35. But, while anyone, man , woman, or child can get gout, there are a number of risk factors are associated with hyperuricemia and gout; including:
- Genetics: 20% of people with gout have a family history of the disease; not much you can do about selecting your parents and their parents though....
- Gender and age: It is more common in men than in women and more common in adults than in children.
- Weight: Being overweight increases the risk of developing hyperuricemia and gout because there is more tissue available for turnover or breakdown, which leads to excess uric acid production.Additionally, the move excess weight your body carries, the less efficient your metabolism becomes, and often, the more cardiovascular functions are reduced. Both of these conditions may lead to increased levels of uric acid.
- Alcohol consumption: This has been recognized for centuries. Drinking too much alcohol can lead to hyperuricemia, because alcohol interferes with the removal of uric acid from the body.
- Diet: Eating too many foods that are rich in purines can cause or aggravate gout in some people.
- Lead exposure: In some cases, exposure to lead in the environment can cause gout. Lead has also been associated with certain types of gout in regions where home made whiskey was produced in stills utilizing leaded radiators from cars.
Other health and medical problems:
- Renal insufficiency or failure, or the inability of the kidneys to eliminate waste products, is a common cause of gout in older people.
- Elevated Blood Pressure: When not controlled, hypertension
can reduce the ability of the kidneys to function normally and result
in higher blood levels or uric acid.
- Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland)
- Conditions that cause an excessively rapid turnover of cells, such as psoriasis, hemolytic anemia, or some cancers and Certain blood disorders, such as leukemia or lymphoma.
- Some Medications promote increased uric acid in the bloodstream
- Kelley-Seegmiller syndrome or Lesch-Nyhan syndrome, two rare conditions in which the enzyme that helps control uric acid levels either is not present or is found in insufficient quantities. If diagnosed with either of these conditions, your doctor will discuss the potential for Gout with you.
10 Ways to Treat and Control Gout Flare-ups
Gout runs in my family. My grandfather and father suffered for many many years. I, thankfully, have been spared this affliction. But, my daughter was diagnosed with gouty arthritis at age 20. We watch what we eat and pay close attention to the changes in our bodies. These are a few of the tips that have been passed down through generations of our family, and by the medical community. They really work!
- Control your weight through a well balanced diet and regular cardiovascular exercise. There are numerous research project that show a positive link between reduced weight and reduced arthritis pain and flare-ups. Diet and exercise both are required. Not crash diets please, as these can lead to higher levels of purine metabolism and uric acid build up.
- Stay hydrated. Your body needs at least 2 liters of water, on the average, per day. Now, most liquids are beneficial, but for the gout sufferer, water is really necessary on top of what ever else you drink. High Uric acid levels can lead to not only gout , but also, kidney stones. And if you think gout feel painful, you don't even want to think about what passing a kidney stone feels like!
- Vitamin C. Recent research, by Dr. Hyon K. Choi, has shown a link between regular daily doses of Vitamin C and reduced incidents of gout attacks. In the study, men where given up 1500 mg of Vitamin C daily and showed a 55% reduction in recurring symptoms.
- Reduce Purine Rich Protein Foods. Dr. Hyon K. Choi also found in a separate study that men with diets
high in red meats wee 40% more likely to have a gout flare, while men
that ate certain types of seafood and fishes (anchovies, sardines in
oil, fish roes, herring, trout, codfish, and all shellfish); where 50%
more likely to have a flare than those who limited their diets.Other foods that are known to have high levels of purines and should be limited are: organ meats (liver, kidneys, sweetbreads, brains);and meat extracts, consomme, and gravies. Overall, the American Medical Association recommends that gout sufferers limit protein in the diet to 15% or less of calories.
- Reduce Purine Rich Plant Foods. It was once thought that reducing or eliminating rich meats, sauces, and gravies was enough to lower purines and uric acid. Not so. Many vegetables and grains are also rich in purines. Oatmeal, dried beans, peas, lentils, spinach, asparagus, cauliflower, and mushrooms are also culprits.
- Increase certain "Gout Friendly" foods that actually lower uric acid in the body and reduce inflammation. These include: Dark berries, tofu and other soy based products, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, Omega Fatty Acids 3, 6, & 9 (found in fish such as salmon, flax or olive oil, or nuts) are also great at reducing uric acid and inflammation.
- Reduce you alcohol consumption; especially beer. Foods high in yeast are high in purines and produce large amounts of uric acid.
- Cherry juice or fresh cherries. This is an age old home remedy for treating gout, and my family's first line of defense at the very first inkling of joint discomfort. Look for a high quality 100% cherry juice - not a blend or juice cocktail. If you find the taste a bit strong to start with, mix it with water. Drinking a glass every day will help keep flare-ups at bay. When you do flare, drink a quart bottle every 24 hours until you find relief - usually in 1 to 2 days!
- Drink Coffee. Yes, that's right - drink coffee. Although the reasons remain unclear, a recent study of middle aged professional men with gout clearly showed that the more coffee a man drank daily, the lower the incidence of reoccurring gout flare-ups. Decaf works too, bu the fully loaded stuff is better. One theory is that coffee is a naturally high source of antioxidants (it is ranked 6th out of the top 50 antioxidant foods). Also, Coffee contains several species of xanthines (stimulant chemicals such as caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline). One of the most effect perscriptin drugs for treating gout contains a similar compound known as Allopurinol, inhibits production of uric acid. Thus, it is possible that xanthines in coffee may have a similar effect on uric acid synthesis.
- Chocolate. The darker the better. Chocolate has many of the sam compounds that are in coffee beans and it has the same effect of bonding to the uric acid and making it easier for your body to flush it away.
Limit Purine Rich Foods
5 More Ways to Treat and Prevent Gout Naturally
- Enjoy some sugar! Hard to believe but true.
Research suggests that a diet with sugary foods everyday reduces gout
flare ups. Why? No one knows yet. But this should be the real cane or
beet sugar, maple syrup, or honey; not the high fructose corn syrup
found in so many preprocessed foods. Corn Syrup does not seem to be as
- Hydrotherapy. When you are having a flare, use and ice pack for 20 minutes at a time to reduce inflammation. Once you get the redness and swelling down a bit, try soaking in for 20 minutes in a tepid (body temperature) bath with Epsom salts. Adding in some mint, or eucalyptus feels great too.
- Apple Cider Vinegar (organic if you can get it). I like to mix a tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar in a cup of herb tea with an equal amount of Raw Honey. The honey cuts the taste of the vinegar and the sugars have been found useful in prevent gout flares. This mix is great for purifying the body of many types of toxins... excellent for a healthy liver. kidneys, and digestive system. And its great for colds and flu.
- Celery and Celery Seed. Eat the fresh celery raw or cooked slightly. You can put the seeds in your foods frequently or use a Celery Seed extract. Make the extract by boiling the celery seeds and drink as a tea.
- Burdock Root Tea and Milk thistle these are great to detox the system, used by herbalist for centuries.
Gout Friendly Foods
When to Seek Medical Help.
Gout usually has a sudden (acute) onset... in 3-12 hours you can go from a perfectly fine joint to one so inflamed you can't put on a sock. If this happens, and you have never been diagnosed by a physician, with gout, call your doctor.
Once a diagnosis is made, the doctor can prescribe medications to assist with the pain and long term treatment. Most doctors will give you advice on how to prevent and control future flare ups.It is really then up to you to take your health in your own hands and do what you can to keep your uric acid levels under control and prevent future gout flare ups a s much as possible.
Often your doctor will advise you to take Medications such as over the counter NSAIDS - non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs, like aspirin, ibuprofen; or analgesic like
acetaminophen. There are however, a few prescription medications that might also be considered. At times a cortisone injection might be helpful. And there are some great medications that will help you get you uric acid levels down if they are very high or you can not keep it under control through diet and exercise alone.
Remember, that just because your symptoms go away for a while... even months or years.... it doesn't mean you are cured! Keep a watch on your health and diet! Look at the photos at the end of this hub ans see what can happen of you just let this serious condition go without monitoring.