Gout is a form of arthritis that affects 8.1 million people, and most have multiple conditions that may complicate treating this inflammation of the joints. Most often it starts in the bunion joint of the big toe, and severe cases of this condition can affect multiple joints (called polyarticular gout). Left untreated, gout can lead to irreversible joint damage, kidney stones, and create unsightly nodules in the soft joints around tissues called tophi.
In its early stages, gout is very treatable, and the condition itself is very preventable. Dietary changes are a simple way to manage gout, and avoiding certain foods will make those changes easier.
Patients in Beverly Hills, California with symptoms of this condition can call on the comprehensive treatment services of Dr. Shawn Veiseh. His practice provides a variety of services, including exams, urgent care, and treatment for chronic conditions like gout.
How do people get gout?
Gout comes from an excess of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is a waste product that’s created when the body breaks down chemicals known as purines. It’s supposed to dissolve and be eliminated from the body through your urine, but too much of it in your blood creates a condition known as hyperuricemia. This creates uric acid crystals, which can settle in the joints to cause the pain and inflammation associated with gout and can also create kidney stones.
A number of things increase the chances of getting gout. Men produce more uric acid than women, so men are more likely to get gout throughout their lives. Women are at higher risk after menopause, as their uric acid levels get close to the amount men produce. Renal and kidney problems increase risk as well, along with weight, some medications, and diet.
What foods do I avoid to manage gout?
Foods and drinks high in purines create a higher risk of gout, which adds to the risk brought on by any conditions or other issues that creates more uric acid. These foods include:
- Seafood: salmon, shrimp, lobster, sardines
- Red meat: beef, lamb, pork, veal
- Organ meat: liver, tongue, heart, kidneys
- High fructose corn syrup: found in soda, candy, canned fruit, and juices
The combination of high amounts of uric acid in your body with foods that have large amounts of it leads to stones (urate crystals) that settle in the kidneys and joints. Untreated, gout can lead to the worst version of this condition, known as chronic tophaceous gout. At this stage, you can end up with permanent joint damage, chronic arthritis, and tophi, which are big lumps of urate crystals that can form around your joints.
What else can I do to manage gout?
Medications are commonly used to treat the symptoms and reduce the risk of future outbreaks, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, naproxen, high dose aspirin, indomethacin), corticosteroids, and colchicine. Changes in your diet will help by reducing foods with high amounts of uric acid, as well as drinking lots of fluids (two to four liters a day), maintaining a healthy body weight, and reducing your alcohol intake.
Gout is treatable but it can make your life miserable if left unchecked. If you’re dealing with gout, make an appointment with Dr. Veiseh to get treatment today.