Gout is a medical condition that develops due to increased levels of uric acid in the blood. The excess uric acid forms crystals, which cause severe pain in the joints. The condition can develop suddenly and reoccur after treatment. Risk factors include being overweight, drinking too much alcohol and being on bed rest due to an illness or surgery. Men between the ages of 30 and 50 are at the highest risk for developing gout. The good news is that gout is treatable, and there are several things you can do at home to help manage pain and discomfort caused by gout.
Gout Symptoms And Complications
In order for prompt treatment to start, it is important for patients to recognize gout symptoms quickly. Symptoms of gout include sudden pain in the joints, which can be severe. Although multiple joints can be involved, gout typically affects only one joint at a time. Redness, swelling and tenderness may also be present. Sometimes flu-like symptoms and fever will develop due to the extreme pain. Symptoms often develop suddenly, which can help distinguish it from other conditions affecting the joints, such as osteoarthritis.
Without proper treatment and management, gout can become a chronic condition. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, irreversible joint damage is possible with untreated gout.
Gout Pain Management
Pain management at home is an essential component of a gout treatment plan. Although prescription medications may be advised, some people will respond well to over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory medications. Often, doctors will advise patients to take the highest allowed dosage for the first day or two of a gout attack. Patients should be aware that aspirin may not be advised since it can make it more difficult to excrete uric acid from the body.
In addition to medication, there are other ways to manage pain at home. Ice packs can be applied to the affected joint for about twenty minutes at a time. The ice can help decrease inflammation and pain in the joint. Resting the joint during an attack may also be recommended. Although bed rest is not necessary, avoiding activities that place stress on the affected joint will reduce discomfort.
Eating a diet high in foods that contain purines is a risk factor for developing gout. It appears certain foods containing purines increase uric acid production. Foods to avoid include codfish, scallops, veal, bacon and red meats, such as beef. Although it may not be necessary to eliminate these types of foods completely, limiting intake to six ounces or less daily is usually recommended.
Stay Well-Hydrated And Avoid Alcohol
One of the risk factors for developing gout is drinking too much alcohol. Drinking too much beer is especially linked to developing gout. According to Cedars-Sinai, men who have more than two alcoholic drinks and women who have more than one drink are at an increased risk of developing the condition.
People prone or at risk of developing gout should also be sure to stay well-hydrated. Drinking about eight glasses of water a day to help remove uric acid from the body is often recommended.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Being overweight is linked to high uric acid levels, which can cause gout to develop. People who are overweight should speak to their doctor about developing a safe weight loss plan. Eating a diet low in animal fat and high in fiber is recommended. Foods, such as fresh vegetables, whole grains and low fat dairy products are good choices for someone with a history of gout. Getting regular exercise can also help promote weight loss and maintain a healthy weight. Although resting may be needed during a gout attack, regular exercise can be resumed after pain and inflammation have subsided.
Go For Regular Checkups
Patients who have had gout in the past may be at risk for developing the condition again. Going for regular checkups to have levels of uric acid monitored can help prevent future attacks. When lifestyle modifications are not enough medication may be prescribed. Medication, such as allopurinol, is available which can prevent uric acid production. Side effects can include nausea and drowsiness.
Medication, which helps excrete uric acid from the body faster, may also be taken. In addition, some doctors may recommend patients take a low dose of anti inflammatory medications to prevent future gout attacks.
According to Harvard Medical School, up to 75 percent of people who had a gout attack will have future attacks. Because of the risk of reoccurrence, learning ways to treat the condition at home and prevent future flare-ups is essential. With lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, dietary modifications and limiting alcohol, it is possible to lower your chances of developing gout in the future.