Living with gout: Tips to manage it and avoid triggers
LIVING a healthy life with gout will need the right management. Gout, once known as the “disease of kings” due to its association with alcohol and rich diet has now become an illness of the common man. But it can still leave you with a royal pain!
Gout is a type of arthritis that is caused by high blood levels of uric acid and can be awfully painful. You may have many asymptomatic years followed by flare-ups for days to weeks. If the uric acid levels in your blood remain high for a long time, the condition may progress to chronic gout with more frequent symptoms. Hard uric acid crystal (tophi) deposits may be formed which can cause swelling and deformity. Recurrent attacks of gout can cause the destruction of bone and cartilage.
Gout is a lifelong ailment. An acute attack of gout can keep you off your feet for a few days. But with the right management, you can better manage the spells of severe pain that last for days and live a healthy life. It is more important than ever to cultivate healthy habits and make some smart choices for a lifetime.
Learn to keep your gout under control. Make these following changes to your diet and lifestyle to manage your gout symptoms and reduce your risk of future attacks as well.
1. Do not miss your medication Stick to your prescribed uric acid lowering drugs. Take them regularly. Keep your painkiller drugs handy. Have them at the first sign of redness or pain. It would also be helpful to learn some pain management strategies.
2. Monitor your uric acid levels Don’t miss your follow-up appointments with your doctor. Get your blood uric acid levels checked. Keep your other co-morbid conditions like diabetes, hypertension, etc., if any, under control.
3. Make some dietary modifications Eat a well-balanced diet. Choose your foods wisely. Wrong food choices can worsen the condition. Limit your intake of foods rich in purines like meat, sardines, mackerel, shellfish, chickpeas, etc.
They increase the blood uric acid levels and worsen the gout symptoms. Avoid refined carbohydrates like white bread, biscuits and cookies. Say no to artificial fruit juices and soft drinks containing high-fructose because fructose significantly increases blood uric acid levels.
Eat a healthy diet that is low in fat content. Consume low-fat milk and curd. Consume more of antioxidant-rich foods like grapes, pineapples, cherries, blueberries, etc. They help in flushing out uric acid and also prevent inflammation of the joints.
Lower your gout attacks with cherries! Studies say that cherries can reduce the risk of gout attacks, especially when combined with the uric-acid reducing drug, allopurinol.
4. Drink plenty of water Drinking at least 8-10 glasses of water in a day removes the excess uric acid from the body and reduces the risk of crystal formation in the joints thereby reducing the risk of a painful gout attack. Increase your water intake at the slightest hint of a possible bout.
5. Swear off tobacco and alcohol Quit smoking and drinking. Both can worsen the symptoms of gout. Smoking interferes with your body’s metabolism. Alcohol, especially beer and wine, have the highest tendency to increase uric acid levels in the blood. Consumption of alcohol could also lead to fluid accumulation.
6. Get your body moving An inactive lifestyle is one of the key factors responsible for gout. Exercise regularly. It benefits both your body and mind and can go a long way in managing the condition. It helps beat co-existent lifestyle diseases like high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, etc.
7. Maintain a healthy weight Maintain your body weight at a healthy level. If you are overweight or obese, it’s time you shed some kilos. But don’t go on a crash diet. Rapid weight loss can cause ketosis and bring on a gout attack. Be sensible and aim to lose weight gradually.
8. Avoid triggers Stay away from foods that can trigger painful gout attacks. Gout patients should avoid tomatoes. Researchers have found them to be the fourth most common trigger after seafood, alcohol and red meat.
Certain anti- hypertensive and potassium losing diuretic drugs can increase uric acid levels. Avoid taking them. If you are on such drugs, talk to your doctor about alternative options.
Acute gout attacks are experienced most commonly at night. It is speculated that night-time dehydration, lower body temperature, or a nocturnal incline of cortisol levels may be the contributing factors. Prophylactic measures, especially at night, may be more effective in preventing gout flares. — thehealthsite.com