Tag Archives: gout

Get the Facts on Gout — A Painful Disease That Targets Men

There are more than 100 forms of arthritis. Together, they affect more than 54 million people in the United States. While some forms of the disease are more common than others, each affects people in different ways. For men, one of the more common forms can be an excruciatingly painful type called gout. Affecting more than 9 million Americans, a gout flare can cause intense pain and immobility. And thanks to hormones, men are four times as likely to live with gout than women.

In layman’s terms, gout is caused by elevated levels of uric acid (hyperuricemia). In the average person, uric acid is eliminated through urine and sweat. But in people living with gout, the uric acid levels are too high for the body to eliminate fully. The uric acid builds up and forms crystallized shards that migrate to the lower joints, most commonly the big toe. These crystallized shards are like small pieces of glass that tear tissue and cause intense pain. Often, the searing pain of a gout attack can leave patients bed-ridden and unable to walk for several days.

Getting Diagnosed
Despite its prevalence in men and its telltale symptoms, many people suffering from gout go undiagnosed. Doctors and patients often attribute the pain to a break or sprain. Others tough out the pain at home, choosing not to seek out medical care at all. But left untreated, gout can cause irreversible damage to the joints it affects. For Jim Klososky, he was lucky enough to be diagnosed early, making it less likely he’ll have permanent joint damage.

“I woke up in extreme pain,” says Jim, as he recalls his first gout attack nearly 30 years ago. “I thought I had broken my toe but couldn’t think of any way that had happened. I was in my 20s and a bartender, so I did drink quite a bit. I thought perhaps I just hadn’t remembered. The pain and swelling reminded me of a previous break, so I just assumed it had happened again.”

Jim had not forgotten some incident from the night before. In fact, tests and X-rays showed no signs of a break. When Jim mentioned his diet was high in fatty foods, and he consumed alcohol on a regular basis, his doctor suspected his pain was caused by gout. Diet, alcohol consumption and genetics all play a role in the development of the disease.

“It didn’t take long for my doctor to put the pieces together and realize that I was suffering from a gout flare,” says Jim. “I know many others don’t get a diagnosis on their first attack. Either they put off a visit to their doctor, or they’re misdiagnosed. Thankfully, my physician was experienced with the disease. He prescribed daily medications as well as an emergency prescription that could help get my flare under control. The meds worked great. I felt better in a couple of days and was able to carry on as usual.”

Moving Forward
As Jim matured, so did his outlook on diet and alcohol. To keep his gout flares in check, he eventually limited alcohol and fatty foods, both of which are triggers for a flare. For years, Jim managed his gout without daily medications, relying solely on a healthy diet to counteract his disease. But as Jim reached his 50s, diet alone could no longer prevent the attacks. As he began to experience more frequent flares, he decided to return to his doctor for guidance.

“Not much has changed in the world of gout medication in the 30 years I’ve lived with this disease,” says Jim. “But I’ve changed. I realize now that taking a daily medication is an important part of staying healthy. I can’t just rely on the right foods and the elimination of alcohol to keep my flares at bay anymore. With medication, I’m able to control my gout and prevent serious attacks that land me in bed and out of commission for days.”

Knowing when and how to ask for help is an important part of staying healthy. For Jim, he often thought he could handle the pain on his own. Daily medications seemed unnecessary in his youth, when flares only came every few years. And when they did happen, he assumed that if he just toughed it out for a day or two, he’d be fine. But now, Jim realizes that his attitude cost him countless days with loved ones and could have led to irreversible damage to his joints.

“Men don’t need to be so stubborn and assume that the pain will just pass if they wait it out,” says Jim. “My biggest piece of advice is that if you’re in pain, go see a doctor. There’s no point in suffering through when there are medications that can help. Pain takes you away from the things and people you love. The older I get, the more I realize how important it is to take every moment I can to enjoy my life.”

If you suspect you have gout or have been diagnosed, learn more about the disease by watching the Living Well With Gout webinar. In this webinar, led by renowned experts and moderated by Jim Klososky, you’ll hear more about Jim’s personal journey, as well as get answers on how to best prevent and treat the disease.

Share Your Gout Experience
Your voice matters. This Men’s Health Month, tell us how living with gout or any form of arthritis has impacted your life, your mental health and your relationships. Take the INSIGHTS survey to shape programs and services from the Arthritis Foundation that help conquer pain caused by arthritis. – Heidi Bragg

 

 

 

 

 

January Arthritis News Update

January Arthritis News Update

We consistently learn more about identifying the symptoms of arthritis and how it affects people’s day-to-day lives. Here are a few inspiring developments in the world of arthritis over the past month.

FDA Issues Stern Warning to CBD Industry

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued warning letters to 15 companies for selling products containing cannabidiol (CBD) in ways that violate the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). The FDA also published a revised Consumer Update detailing safety concerns about CBD products more broadly. The FDA warning particularly focuses on ingestibles and products that fall outside of the Arthritis Foundation’s CBD guidelines.

The Arthritis Foundation sent a letter to the FDA regarding the need for more regulation, research and patient education regarding CBD and continues to monitor any legislative action regarding CBD. We have strict guidelines a CBD company must meet in order to associate with us through programs, sponsorship or advertising.  We are not affiliated in any way with any of the 15 firms cited in the FDA letter.

The Arthritis Foundation released the first-ever patient CBD Consumer Guidance for Adults with Arthritis for those considering the use of CBD. You can also learn more about CBD in episode #1 of the Live Yes! With Arthritis Podcast, available now.

Tennis Star Caroline Wozniacki Opens Up About Her Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis

Caroline Wozniacki recently announced her retirement from professional tennis. During her career, which began at age 15, she achieved 30 Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) singles titles, a WTA Finals victory, three Olympic games — carrying the flag for her native Denmark — and a win at the 2018 Australian Open Grand Slam championship. One area of focus she’s planning during her retirement is raising awareness about rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Wozniacki was recently diagnosed with RA but said it didn’t play a factor in her decision to retire.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease and causes inflammation as the immune system attacks joints by mistake. Treatment of RA includes over-the-counter drugs, like ibuprofen and aspirin, to control pain and inflammation and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs.

Wozniak plans to use her platform to launch a health education campaign centered around RA. Her goal is let people know anything is possible, regardless of the disease.

Thermal Cameras Detect Rheumatoid Arthritis When Symptoms Are Absent

A recent study performed by Staffordshire University shows thermal imaging could be used to detect rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers wanted to see if RA patients showed different temperatures in their palms when compared to healthy individuals. Patients for this study were chosen because they showed no other signs of RA symptoms.

The researchers found patients with RA showed higher temperatures than the healthy participants, possibly caused by underlying disease activity. Although further studies are required, the research team believes thermal imaging, an emerging technology within medicine, could be an innovative tool for detecting RA compared to current methods.

New Wearable Sensor Detects Gout and Other Medical Conditions

Gout is a complex form of arthritis, characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain and tenderness in the joints. It can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are similar to other conditions.

A Cal Tech team led by Wei Gao, a professor of biomedical engineering, developed a wearable sensor that measures sweat compounds. The research team designed its sensor to measure levels of uric acid, in addition to other metrics. Uric acid was chosen because it is associated with gout, which occurs when high uric acid levels begin crystallizing in the joints, causing irritation and inflammation.

The high sensitivity of the sensors, along with the ease of manufacturing them, means they could eventually be used by patients at home to monitor conditions like gout, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Arthritis can make everyday life difficult for the millions of Americans struggling with its many different forms. But education and scientific developments can make it easier to identify, detect and treat the effects of arthritis. Get the resources you need by joining the Live Yes! Arthritis Network.

Quitting Smoking Helps Improve RA 

Smoking cessation can lower disease activity for RA patients, as well as lowering cardiovascular disease risks according to a new study put out by Oxford Academic.

Additionally, the Mayo Clinic recently released  a study of 74 comorbidities and the timing of their development. The study discovered that comorbidities accumulate in an accelerated fashion after an RA diagnosis. In addition, autoimmune diseases and epilepsy may predispose to RA development, while heart disease, venous thromboembolism and obstructive sleep apnea might develop as a result of RA.

You can find out more about arthritis comorbidities and how RA increases risks for lung and heart diseases on the Arthritis Foundation’s website.

Rural Areas Benefit from State Arthritis Programs

Living in rural areas of the U.S. can provide many challenges for access to care when it comes to managing arthritis. However, state arthritis programs funded by the CDC can make a difference. A recent article released by Xtelligent Healthcare Media highlighted the benefits of providing access to these programs and how they can break down some of the barriers.

The Arthritis Foundation advocates in D.C. each year for continued and increased funding from the CDC to provide these state-funded arthritis programs. You can take action by sending a letter to your lawmakers encouraging them to support this increased funding.

Physical Therapy Before Joint Injections?

Osteoarthritis treatments available are limited, but new research shows that physical therapy may be more effective for knee OA than steroid injections.

The Arthritis Foundation has a Walk with Ease Program & The Better Living Toolkit that can provide guidance in managing OA and staying active. Information on the benefits of physical therapy is available on our website, as well as exercising with OA.

No Itch to Switch: Few Medicare Beneficiaries Switch Plans During the Open Enrollment Period

According to a recent article, only 8-10% of Medicare beneficiaries voluntarily switch plans during open enrollment. Around 1% switch involuntarily. This lends to discussion on whether people understand the differences in their coverage plans available.

The Arthritis Foundation has a toolkit to help you understand your health insurance coverage needs and plan options with the RX for Access – Your Coverage, Your Care.  Also,the Arthritis Foundation Helpline, staffed by licensed, clinical social workers, offers assistance 24/7 to help you understand how to access the care you need.

worst food for gout

New Year, New You Fighting Back When You Have Gout

Now that the holiday feasts are over and the New Year is here, it’s a good time to take stock of your diet and consider healthy changes – especially if you have gout.

Gout is a common form of inflammatory arthritis that can unleash intensely painful flares in individual joints, often in the big toe. An estimated 8 million Americans experience gout attacks, which can last for a few days. The condition can also become chronic and lead to the destruction of joints. Although there’s no cure, there are medications to control gout, as well as lifestyle changes you can make to manage the condition – and reduce or even eliminate attacks.

Gout develops in some people who have high levels of uric acid in the blood; the uric acid can form needle-like crystals in soft tissues and joints. Uric acid is produced when the body breaks down chemicals called purines. Purines occur naturally in your body but are also found in certain foods and beverages. If your body can’t get rid of the uric acid efficiently enough (it’s cleaned out of the blood by your kidneys and eliminated in urine), the uric acid in your blood can build up and reach levels that could cause problems (above 6mg/dl).

One way to minimize the risk of a gout flare is to cut back on high-purine foods. The DASH diet – a low-sodium diet that emphasizes fruits and vegetables over red meats and processed foods – is recommended for people with gout. The Mediterranean diet – which emphasizes fruits, veggies, whole grains and healthy fats – may also help. Find more gout info here.

For specific foods and beverages, keep the following tips in mind:

Worst Foods & Beverages for Gout

  • At the top of the list of what to avoid is booze. Beer and liquor readily convert to uric acid and they slow down its elimination. Studies have shown mixed results about whether wine is OK in moderation.
  • Drinking sugary beverages, such as sodas sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, fruit juices or other sugar-containing drinks, is associated with gout. Notable exception: cherries, especially tart cherries, may be beneficial for gout.
  • Go light on red meats, particularly organ meats like liver, tongue and sweetbreads, which are all high in purines. Also avoid or minimize the amount of bacon, venison and veal you eat.
  • Maybe surprising: Turkey and goose are very high in purines. Chicken and duck are better bets.
  • Some seafoods also are high in purines, including anchovies, sardines, mussels, scallops, crabs, lobsters, oysters and shrimp.
  • Some vegetables are on the watch list, too: Consider cutting back on mushrooms, asparagus and spinach – but veggies of any kind are much less likely to trigger a gout flare than alcohol or organ meats.
  • Learn more about foods to accept or reject here.

What’s Left?

There are also many things you can add to your diet to help avoid or manage gout. Drink plenty of water, milk and tart cherry juice. Drinking coffee seems to help as well. Be sure to talk with your doctor before making any dietary changes.

Get your New Year off to a great start, whether it’s changing your diet, getting in a more positive frame of mind, or embracing a feel-good hobby. Live your best life in 2020! Join the Live Yes! Arthritis Network FOR FREE. Our community is here to help you.

Weight Loss Helps Gout

If you have gout, you know all about high uric acid levels. Uric acid (UA) forms when the body breaks down purines, which are found in human cells and many foods. You may be working with your doctor, taking medication and avoiding certain foods to keep UA levels in the normal range, but could you be overlooking an important factor – your weight?  Continue reading Weight Loss Helps Gout