Gout, a common form of inflammatory arthritis, is caused when uric acid crystals build up in the tissues and fluids of a patient’s body.1 Symptoms of gout include redness, swelling, pain, heat, and stiffness in joints; the first gout attack often occurs in an individual’s big toe, and can be painful enough to wake them from slumber.2 Although gout attacks can be treated with medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, certain nonpharmacologic steps may be beneficial in managing or avoiding these flares. The following tips include methods for easing or preventing gout attacks3:
- Follow a Healthy Diet
Patients should avoid certain foods and beverages that have been shown to aggravate their condition, such as foods that are high in purines (eg, liver, anchovies), or drinks that contain high-fructose corn syrup.
- Stick to the Prescribed Treatment Plan
Patients should continue taking prescribed medications as suggested by their healthcare provider. In addition, patients should keep their physician or other healthcare providers up-to-date regarding any new medicines or vitamins that they begin taking.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight—Carefully!
In addition to maintaining a healthy diet, patients should exercise on a regular basis and strive to maintain a healthy body weight. Individuals who are overweight are encouraged to discuss safe weight-loss methods with their physician, because losing an extreme amount of weight—or losing weight too quickly—may result in elevated uric acid levels.
- Stay Hydrated
Patients should drink adequate amounts of water, and keep their alcohol consumption in check, because alcohol is a potential trigger for gout attacks.
- Inform the Physician If Attacks Persist
Recurrent gout attacks that go untreated may lead to chronic gout (ie, damage and deformity of the joints). Patients should tell their healthcare provider if they are experiencing frequent attacks of pain and swelling in their joints, as this may indicate a need for uric acid–lowering drugs.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gout. Updated July 22, 2016. www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/gout.html. Accessed December 19, 2016.
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. What is gout? November 2014. www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/gout/gout_ff.asp. Accessed December 19, 2016.
- National Institutes of Health. Gripped by gout. February 2014. https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/Feb2014/Feature2. Accessed December 19, 2016.