Liv­ing with gout: Tips to man­age it and avoid trig­gers

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Health Mat­ters Dr Anitha An­chan

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. — the­health­

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