Worldwide cases of gout have increased over the last 20 years leading to a significant public health challenge in many countries. In the 19th century, gout was known as ‘the kings’ disease’ due to the privileged gentry’s indulgent way of living.
Today it is still the cause of laughter as people associate it with overeating and drinking too much alcohol.
However, gout is no laughing matter. Studies by Healio.com have shown that globally cases of gout now exceed 41 million.
It has been proven that the increase is due to a change in the population’s lifestyle. A guide to managing gout by Zocdoc explains how gout is a type of arthritis. It is caused when small when crystals form around and inside our joints, causing sudden severe pain and swelling.
A flare-up may last for days or weeks, and you may have multiple flare-ups during a year.
Following some of the tips discussed below may help to combat or ease the symptoms and alleviate the pain.
Eat a Healthy Diet
A balanced diet is an important factor when managing gout. Too much uric acid in our body is one of the leading causes. Certain seafood like mussels, scallops, shrimp, crab, and lobsters are high in purines which form uric acid on oxidization.
The same goes for organ meats such as liver and tongue. However, the health benefits of eating seafood may well outclass the risks to people with gout.
In their article ‘Best and Worst Foods For Gout,’ WebMD explains how foods that are high in vitamin C lower the uric acid level and help prevent a flare-up. To get enough protein, eat beans, peas, and lentils, as these are acid-neutral and are suitable for combatting an attack.
Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking plenty of water to flush out our kidneys and eliminating uric acid would be best. It’s recommended you drink eight glasses a day, increasing this to 16 during a flare-up. It is not the only drink you can use- lemon juice will help lower uric acid levels, but be aware it is not a cure.
Also, drinking one or two cups of coffee with low-fat semi-skimmed milk and no sugar can prevent an attack, whilst the antioxidants in green tea may fight the inflammation associated with gout. Remember, herbal teas like nettle and camomile benefit our overall health and well-being.
During a flare-up, sufferers may not be able to exercise due to the build-up of uric acid crystals that settle joints, causing swelling and making movement extremely painful. However, patients with gout should try and stay active to keep joints supple, therefore decreasing the risk of injury.
Reducing weight through exercise also benefits gout sufferers, as research has shown that fat carries more uric acid than muscle. So by ridding our bodies of the fat, we will also remove some uric acid. Water aerobics is a perfect activity to try, as the impact on our bones is reduced due to the buoyancy of the water.
Prescribed medication such as Colchicine, an anti-inflammatory drug, helps reduce pain. The side effects, including diarrhea and vomiting, may offset its effectiveness.
There are other options you could try; a deficiency level of vitamin C contributes to suffering from gout. This vitamin is widely available, generally safe, and is found in many fruits and vegetables. There are herbal supplements that are beneficial due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger, Guava leaf extract, and turmeric are a few of the most common.
Help Yourself Tips
You can do a few things to relieve the pain when trying to ease a gout episode.
Taking your medication is the obvious place to start. Raising the limb and resting it is an excellent idea to keep pressure off the affected joint. Applying an ice pack for 20 minutes at a time will help reduce the swelling. Keeping the bedclothes off at night will also relieve pressure on the bone. Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water.