Fitness Facts: How to prevent gout
By Connie Colbert
Director, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic
Have you experienced pain in your big toe that came on suddenly and persisted?
If so, you may have gout.
The incidence of gout has risen greatly over the past 20 years and now affects approximately 8.3 million Americans. It is more common in men than women and more prevalent in people of African American descent. The chances of having a gout attack also increase with age up to 75 years old.
It most commonly appears in the joint of the big toe but can appear in any joint in the body, including the ankles, knees, wrists, fingers and elbows. It usually occurs in one joint at a time, but if it is chronic problem it also can affect multiple joints.
Gout is a type of arthritis that causes inflammation of the joints because of excess uric acid. This buildup of uric acid causes pain and swelling in your joints. The pain usually comes on suddenly and can become severe – it usually becomes most severe in the 12 hours of the onset of symptoms.
Other symptoms include joint swelling and redness of the joint, tenderness to the touch (sometimes so severe it is difficult to wear a sock or shoe) and warmth or heat to the joint.
What causes gout? Am I susceptible to getting it?
It may be a combination of factors to include:
- Genetic predisposition
- Drinking alcohol
- Diet high in purines (these foods include: organ meats, bacon, pork red meat, shellfish, anchovies, tuna, beer and distilled liquor)
- High blood pressure
- Certain medications (such as diuretics)
- Decreased kidney function
What can I do to help lower my chances of an attack?
- Eat foods low in purines. The exception is vegetables with elevated purines, such as asparagus and spinach. They do not increase risk.
- Limit alcohol intake, especially beer and distilled liquors
- Limit sugar-sweetened foods such as sweetened cereals, bakery goods and candy. Limit sweet fruit juices.
- Take 500mg of Vitamin C daily
- Add cherries to your diet. Evidence has shown that cherries decrease the risk of an attack.
- And as always, maintain a healthy lifestyle by limiting calories and getting regular exercise. This can help you obtain a healthy weight and further decrease the risk.
If you believe that you have experienced or are experiencing the symptoms of gout, discuss the treatment plan with your health care provider.
This article is not a substitute for a visit to your provider to discuss the proper diagnosis and an individualized treatment plan.