If you have gout, you know how painful a flare can be. You may wake up in the middle of the night with an intensely painful and swollen big toe or another lower joint. The area affected may feel like it’s on fire and even the weight of a bed sheet is hard to take.
What Causes Gout?
Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis. It often develops in people who have high uric acid levels. Uric acid is produced in the body when purines – substances that are found naturally in your body and in many foods – are broken down.
A person with gout may produce too much uric acid or their kidneys might not be able to process it causing a build-up, which can lead to gout.
Can I Prevent a Flare?
Some people never have a second attack of gout, but about 60 percent do. So, if you have gout it is worth understanding how you can lower your chance of an attack.
Besides regularly taking your prescribed gout medications, here are five ways that you may be able to keep flares at bay.
- Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water. While water is the healthiest option, you can also drink skim milk and low fat dairy products as well as coffee. Avoid sweetened beverages, especially those with high-fructose corn syrup.
- Limit alcohol: Following the rule for no more than one drink for a woman or two for a man is a good idea if you have gout. Beer has been shown to raise the risk for gout symptoms – especially in men. If in doubt about whether to consume any alcohol at all, talk with your doctor.
- Pay attention to proteins: Red meat, organ meats (liver, kidney, tongue and sweetbreads), and shellfish like shrimp and lobster may increase your chances of having a flare. Some people may be able to tolerate eating some meat, but always think about how much, how often and what type of meat.
- Watch your weight: Maintaining healthy weight is part of managing your gout. Obese people are more prone to gout and may experience it at a younger age. In the long run, losing weight can help you keep gout attacks at bay, and can also decrease your chance of heart disease and stroke – both are common in people with gout.
- Eat your veggies: Stick to a diet that is heart-healthy and includes lots of vegetables,. Not only will these foods help you maintain a healthy weight, many are low in uric acid. Stay away from processed foods.
Managing your gout is worth it as it not only prevents future gout attacks, but also the erosion and destruction of a joint that can result from those attacks.
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