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What is a Gout Attack? What Causes It? How Do You Treat It?

Updated on August 2, 2016

What Is a Gout Attack?

Uric acid occurs naturally within the body. The kidneys' job is to remove uric acid from the blood to keep us healthy and happy. When the kidneys do not function optimally, or when we eat or drink substances that increase the amount of uric acid in the body, then that uric acid has to go somewhere. Since the kidneys are not flushing out the uric acid, the acid forms crystals which the body deposits in various joints.

These uric acid deposits cause the joint to become red, inflamed, and painful. That is gout.

In general, males suffer more gout attacks than females because men tend to have more uric acid than females.

Gout tends to occur in the form of an acute attack, appearing suddenly rather than building up over time like a disease like arthritis.

The good news is that gout can be prevented, and in most cases the inflamed joints can be treated. Once the crystals have dissolved and the kidneys flush the uric acid out of the body, then the gout disappears.

The bad news is that gout tends to recur. Diet and what you eat play a very important role in how much uric acid is in the body, and also plays a role in how well the kidneys can function to remove the uric acid.

So let us take a look at the causes of and treatment for a gout attack, and what you should be doing or avoiding to relieve the symptoms of gout.

Uric acid crystals cause gout attacks
Uric acid crystals cause gout attacks

Causes of Gout Attacks

The following foods and lifestyle habits have been found to bring on or cause gout attacks:

Being Obese or Overweight

Obesity or being overweight causes a number of systems in the body to become overloaded. If you are overweight the kidneys have to work harder to flush the toxins from the system. If the kidneys are overwhelmed, the uric crystals can build up in the joints causing you to experience an episode of gout.

Diets High in Purines

Eating foods high in purines can make your gout attacks more frequent or they can make the problem worse. Foods that are high in purines include:

  • Seafood
  • Red meat
  • Organ meats
  • Fish
  • Some types of nuts
  • Meat extracts
  • Spinach
  • Asparagus
  • Mushrooms
  • Cauliflower

Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease can make gout attacks more frequent, because if the kidney does not flush out the uric acid, crystals can be deposited in the various joints.

Dehydration

Chronic dehydration can cause gout, because without sufficient water, the kidney cannot flush out toxins including uric acid.

Medication

Some medications have been linked to an increase in uric acid production within the body. Medications that have been linked to gout include:

  • diuretics
  • beta blockers
  • aspirin
  • cyclosporine

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Symptoms of Gout

Generally gout occurs in the big toe and pain, redness and swelling of the big toe is normally recognized as gout. The truth however is that gout doesn't only appear in the big toe. You can get gout in the instep of the foot or in the ankle or heel joint. It can even occur in the knees, wrists, fingers, or elbows.

The symptoms of gout include:

  • Pain in the joint
  • Red and inflamed joint
  • Swelling in the affected joint
  • Heat in the affected joint
  • Stiffness in the joint

Natural Remedies for Gout Attacks

One of the most popular and the most effective natural or home remedies for gout attack is lemon juice.

Lemon juice is high in citric acid, and citric acid essentially dissolves uric acid. This is what makes lemon and lemon juice—or any citrus fruit that is high in citric acid for the matter—so effective for helping to relieve gout attacks.

Lemons are also known for their ability to stimulate the liver. The liver is also involved in ridding the body of toxins in conjunction with the kidneys. By stimulating and supporting the liver you are helping the body get rid of toxic overload and in so doing, the kidneys have a chance to get rid of the uric crystals that are causing your gout.

Lemon juice also stimulates the production of calcium carbonate within the body. Uric acid can form in a body that has an acidic pH. When you add lemon or lemon juice to your diet, the pH of the body environment can change from acidic to alkaline. Acid crystals, including uric acid crystals, break down in an alkaline environment.

Lemon is great for gout relief
Lemon is great for gout relief

Another great remedy for gout is golden milk. Golden milk is milk to which a few teaspoons of turmeric paste has been added; it can be taken every morning. Turmeric is becoming more and more popular as a way to help the body decrease inflammation. More and more studies are showing that turmeric is extremely effective and reducing and preventing inflammation within the body. As gout is a result of inflammation, using turmeric or golden milk can be very useful in the treatment of gout.

pH and Lemon

The best way to treat or prevent gout attacks is to:

  • Avoid foods that trigger gout
  • Keep the body alkaline
  • Eat lemons or drink lemon juice to alkalize the body and dissolve uric acid crystals
  • Add some bicarbonate of soda to neutralize pH

Home and Natural Remedies

This video contains some natural approaches to preventing and dealing with gout.

Adding Lemon or Turmeric to Your Diet

The best way to add lemon to your diet is by drinking lemon water. You can make lemon water yourself. I is best to drink it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Simply add about a tablespoon of lemon concentrate (the equivalent of two lemons) to a mug of warm water and drink.

You can also make your own golden paste, make it into a drink, and drink that on an empty stomach in the morning. To make your paste, combine half a cup of turmeric spice with about a cup of water. Gradually heat the mixture on the stove for about five minutes until the turmeric becomes a paste. Store the paste in an airtight jar in the fridge; it will last for about two to three weeks. Add two teaspoons of the turmeric paste to a glass of warm milk and drink that in the morning.

Prevention is better than cure. Drinking lemon water every morning is really healthy and will keep the pH of the body alkaline, and this will hopefully prevent you from suffering from gout attacks in the first place.

Golden Milk is Great for Gout

Golden Milk is Great for Gout
Golden Milk is Great for Gout

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    • Edward J. Palumbo profile image

      Ed Palumbo 3 years ago from Tualatin, OR

      Thank you for the information! I encounter gout almost annually, and take colchicine as prescribed. It was also recommended to eat cherries, avoid alcohol and beverages high in fructose. The lemons are new information for me, and I appreciate that.

    • Sahdika Khan profile image

      Sahdika Khan 3 years ago

      Very helpful information. Clarified my view. I always had the opinion that gout was caused by a person taking in too much alcohol too often and also a diet consisting of too much red meat.

      Home remedies are great. People should also be aware to check the ingredients of home remedies carefully just in case they have allergies to certain foods and especially before giving anything to kids as well. I came across a few people who had an allergic reaction toward the commercially packaged turmeric which is used as a spice. Therefore, people should take note that there are different forms of turmeric. The powdered spice form which is probably mixed with preservatives and other substances and then there is also turmeric root which is in the purer state.

    • Brigitta Schwulst profile image
      Author

      Brigitta Schwulst 3 years ago from Mossel Bay, Western Cape

      Thanks for the comment doctohawkson. Yes. Lemon juice can be very effective at alkalizing the body.

    • doctorhawkson profile image

      Stanley 3 years ago from Beaufort

      Interesting hub. Didn't know about using lemon juice for treating gout until now. Thanks for the info

    • Brigitta Schwulst profile image
      Author

      Brigitta Schwulst 3 years ago from Mossel Bay, Western Cape

      Thank you so much for the lovely comment and vote :)

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Very informative article about Gout, its causes and treatment!

      You have explained it in a very simple way. Will be useful to many. Voted up as useful! Welcome to HubPages!