Historically, gout was a disease that was associated with rich, old people. In fact it was a disease of royalty – the only people who could afford to eat fatty, over stuffed foods. While there’s some truth to the type of foods contributing to the problem, gout can happen to anyone at any age.
What is gout?
Gout is actually a type of arthritis. The pain is an inflammation that occurs when crystal deposits from inside connective tissue and impedes the joint function. These crystals are made from uric acid.
Your body makes uric acid from purines in certain foods. Most of the uric acid is eliminated from the body. But when the body makes too much uric acid, it gathers in the joints and causes serious problems.
A gout attack starts with tenderness, warmth and sudden pain in the joint of the big toe. That’s a classic sign of gout, although pain can happen in the ankles, knees, wrists or fingers.
The affected joint also looks red and feels hot to the touch. The initial gout attack may last a few days, but with each new attack, it lasts longer and the pain is more severe. You need a thorough medical evaluation for gout and will probably be given prescription medication.
How to prevent the next gout attack?
There’s also plenty that you can do to prevent the next gout attack. First, moderate your diet. Start by limiting or eliminating high purine foods such as beef, pork, lamb and organ meats.
You also need to give up alcohol including beer. Some seafood is problematic for uric acid including anchovies, herring, mussels, codfish, sardines, scallops, haddock and trout. Second, add more gout preventative foods to your diet.
Use low fat dairy products which can actually help prevent gout. Increase your consumption of low-purine foods such as cereal, fruit, bread, grain, pasta, rice, olives, cheese, eggs, tomatoes and some green vegetables.
Third, lose excess weight and do all you can to improve muscle tone with moderate, regular exercise. You want to keep your body in the best shape possible. But you can’t go on a fad diet or high protein diet – that will cause more harm.
Fourth, be consistent in taking any prescription medications you take – even during times when you don’t have gout pain. A gout attack can be triggered or worsened by stress, illness and alcohol use.
Once the attack starts, you have to be extremely careful of foods and over the counter medications to avoid prolonging the attack. Because the pain makes walking and standing so difficult, you have to reduce your activities during a gout attack. You can live a full life even with gout if you do all you can to prevent future occurrences.