Reducing your risk of gout

Gout is becoming increasingly common in Australia, with plenty of over 60s falling victim to the pain.
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Gout can be incredibly painful and debilitating.

There are many different types of arthritis out there, but one of the most painful is gout. Unfortunately, gout is quite common among over 60s with around 70,000 Australians suffering from the condition.

While men are more likely to develop gout, it also affects women – especially those who have been through menopause.

What causes gout?

Gout is caused by uric acid, which is usually discarded from the body by the kidneys. If the acid is not removed it can cause a build up and form small crystals around the joints, causing inflammation, pain and swelling.

Those who suffer from gout will often have visibly swollen joints that can cause hands and feet to contort and change shape.

Professor of Clinical Pharmacology at St Vincent’s Hospital Clinical School and Pharmacology, School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW Ric Day says both diet, genetics and conditions like chronic kidney disease or chronic renal failure play a part in your risk of getting gout.

“Gout is very strongly linked to the uric acid concentration in the blood and that is generally controlled by genetics, but it’s also contributed to by your lifestyle, the big one being what you eat,” he said.

When it comes to diet, it’s foods that are high in purine that cause the most damage.

“If you’re eating a lot of foods that actually break down into uric acid, you’re more at risk. Typically shell fish like prawns, lobsters, calamari and octopus – and probably the highest risk seafood is something called whitebait – are very high in purine content which leads onto uric acid in the blood,” he said.

“The other one is alcohol and typically beer. But a lot of people think having gout is linked to having too much alcohol, but that’s not always the case. So a lot of people are embarrassed by having a diagnosis of gout because of that, but it’s not true.

“For example women after menopause become more susceptible to gout, not because they’re drinking more, but simply because of the menopause and the particular effect of estrogen.”

What is a gout attack?

One of the most painful aspects of gout is a ‘gout attack’, where joints become swollen and inflamed for up to 10 days, causing severe pain. Attacks often occur in the joint of the big toe and can last for hours, leaving the victim in debilitating pain.

Professor Day says anti-inflammatory medication is the best way to ease the pain quickly, with more intense options like cortisone also available.

“Often a gout attack happens in men and it’s usually in the feet at the base of the big toe and more commonly at night. It’s incredibly painful with pressure on the joint from even a bed sheet described as being uncomfortable,” he said.

“The first approach to dealing with this is medicine. There’s anti-inflammatory drugs, like nurofen, that can help. Taking a very solid dose for about a week or so until things settle is usually what happens.

“Once things settle down it’s about reducing the risk factors and reducing the uric acid in the blood.”

How do I reduce my risk of gout?

While anyone can be affected by gout, there are a ways to reduce you risk, both medically and naturally.

Your doctor can check your uric acid levels with a simple blood test and if your levels are too high, medication can be prescribed to bring them back to normal. However, lifestyle changes will be the first port of call.

Diet plays a big part and doctors recommend reducing the amount of purine-rich foods you consume.

  • Alcohol, particularly beer and hard liquor
  • Red meat and organ meat such as liver or kidneys, which are high in saturated fat
  • Seafood such as lobster, prawns, sardines, anchovies, tuna, trout, mackerel, haddock, calamari and whitebait
  • Sugary drinks and foods high in fructose
  • Processed foods and refined carbohydrates

If you can lower your uric acid levels, your more likely to avoid gout in future.

Have you had any experience with gout? Do you have a form of arthritis?

  1. Greg  

    I get gout, not very often now that I know what causes it, I keep 60 tablets of arthrexin 25mg in the medicine kit and I take 2 as soon as I feel it coming on. The medication works. I haven’t had to have any for nearly 12 months. With me, prawns are a no no, I can have a few but not many. I enjoy a beer but I rarely have more than 2. Drinking lots of water also helps flush the uric acid out.

    • Frank_NELSON-58add4c0e1203  

      I like your management plan, I too have a similar plan, however I use diclofenac 25mg for up to three days, whilst maintaining good hydration. Alcohol doesn’t induce “gout attacks” with me.

    • Alejandro Capote  

      You should try Colcigel, first and only transdermal prescription gel used for treatment and prevention of acute gouty attacks, no need for Oral colchicine which causes gastrointestinal upset, works within 3 hours of the attack

  2. James  

    I suffered from gout for almost 5 years and was unable to walk or even stand up without atrocious pain in my foot. I tried all the medications my doctor prescribed but all I got was a temporary relief (no longer than a week)… The situation was really bad. However, one day I scrolled through facebook and accidentally found an alternative treatment. It’s an e-book that was created by a former goat sufferer. He claimed that he cured his severe gout in one week at his home. Of course, I was skeptical about it, but I had nothing to lose, so I gave it a go (by the way, you can find it here – http://fixgout.info/getreport). After reading it, I didn’t believe that some diet changes could help me to deal with this excruciating pain, but I started to eat as it said and surprisingly after a few days my pain was almost gone! It didn’t last long until my goat went away completely! I fully regained my mobility and now I’m feeling better than ever. After all I went through – I just wish I could have tried it earlier…

    • Tom  

      Glad the goat is better but how are you ?

    • Valerie Bush  

      Don’t just click on links, type info into browser to be sure it’s not a hoax

    • Tony  

      Well it works for me the same. Either I click or paste into browser.

  3. Frank_NELSON-58add4c0e1203  

    This article is great for promoting awareness, however it may useful to mention the various types on inflammatory processes in the synovial body joints as well. Such as, non gouty, gouty gout, pseudo gout etc. Awareness leads to education and vice versa. Not sure about gimmicks fixes, however what may work for one may not work for you. Don’t forget to keep you GP in the loop when “trialling” etc.

  4. Trevor Cook  

    I take Allopurinol tablets to prevent gout.

  5. David Cousens  

    Trevor Have you had neuropathy using Allopurinol?

    • Alright young lady, Gossip has great fries, but my all time favorite is Nat1sn&#82h7;a. Particularly when they’re slightly burnt. At least it was my favorite until I went to the Dodgers’ stadium in LA and had their garlic fries. Dear lord, I don’t remember ever tasting any potato nearly as good.

  6. Gwen  

    I am long term trearptment of Allopurinol and haven’t had a flare up in over 12 months. I suffer from a kidney disease which also causes me to get gout and the Meds I take for that had to be adjusted as they also made it worse!

    • You have the monopoly on useful inoitmarfon-aren’t monopolies illegal? 😉

  7. David Cousens  

    Just an anecdotalobservation. I noticed that after having incipient gout and taking vitamin C (Berocca), my incipient gout disappeared. A quick look around Google scholar found an article which had found that vitamin C increases the metabolism of uric acid. This has worked for me. Won’t fix it once the uric acid has built up in the joints, but it seems to stop it if you take it when you just get that first niggle in the toe. Hydration seems to be another big factor in keeping it at bay along with general diet control.

  8. Kerrie  

    I have found that taking juniper and celery tablets from the health food store helped my gout. Apparently it has a diuretic effect and flushes out the uric acid.

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