Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in your joints. Gout is a unique and complex type of arthritis that affects over nine million people in the United States, with the numbers increasing around the world.
Gout is more common in older adults, men, and African Americans in particular, but can affect anyone. While not typically a fatal condition, gout can increase your risk of other conditions if left untreated.
Fortunately, it’s also a preventable condition with some lifestyle and dietary changes. If you live in the Beverly Hills, California, area and you’re dealing with this common form of arthritis, Dr. Shawn Veiseh and his skilled team at Shawn Veiseh, M.D. can help.
Let’s discover the best ways to avoid gout by looking at how the condition works, its causes and symptoms, and the best methods of prevention.
An inflammatory form of arthritis, gout is a general term for a variety of conditions caused by an excess buildup of uric acid in your body, called hyperuricemia. This buildup can form uric acid crystals that collect in your joints and lead to the pain and other symptoms common to gout, lasting for up to 10 days.
Repeated gout attacks can create lumps called tophi and cause permanent damage in both your joints and the surrounding tissue.
The buildup of uric acid can be the result of different factors, including dehydration, kidney disease, thyroid disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, and other family members having gout.
Lifestyle habits like drinking alcohol and eating foods high in purines (a natural chemical compound that leads to the production of uric acid) also cause gout, as well as certain medications like cyclosporine and diuretics.
There are several common symptoms of gout: intense joint pain (commonly starting in your big toe, but can happen in any joint), inflammation, redness, lingering discomfort, and limited motion in your affected joints. Recurring gout can lead to complications such as kidney stones and the formation of tophi, nodules that become swollen and tender during attacks and can lead to extensive joint damage.
Here are the best ways to avoid gout:
Reducing your intake of foods high in purines will decrease your chances of getting gout, so eat less red meat, organ meat, and different types of fish (anchovies, sardines, mussels, scallops, and trout). Increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, potatoes, rice, and pasta. Also eat more eggs and chicken, but only in moderation.
Reducing your weight decreases your risk of gout by lowering your uric acid levels. The combination of weight loss and dietary changes is shown to increase positive results in people at risk for gout.
Stress and anxiety can increase the amount of uric acid in your body, so lowering your stress levels can reduce the inflammation that can come with it. Deep breathing techniques, yoga, and other methods of staying calm can make a difference in your risk of gout.
Alcohol contains a lot of purines, which presents an immediate higher risk of gout, so reducing the amount of alcohol you drink can have quick results in reducing your chances of gout. Drinking more water also helps to flush purines from your body, so less alcohol and more water is a good solution.
These tips and other treatments and medications can help treat and prevent gout flare-ups and eliminate your risk of other complications from recurrent gout. If you’re dealing with gout and need help getting it under control, make an appointment with Dr. Veiseh today to get relief. Call our office or schedule a visit online.