4 Ways to Avoid a Gout Attack

Gout is a form of arthritis that causes painful swelling in your joints. While it typically affects the metatarsophalangeal joint (MCP), the joint where your big toe meets your foot, gout can develop elsewhere, including your ankles, knees, wrists, and hands.

Gout's symptoms tend to flare up suddenly in episodes known as gout attacks. Without treatment, gout can affect mobility, cause chronic pain, and even lead to permanent joint damage. At Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center, our team of skilled podiatrists provides relief for the pain, stiffness, and swelling associated with gout. 

In addition to treatment methods such as medication and orthotics, simple lifestyle changes can reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms. Here are four ways to avoid a gout attack and live a pain-free, more active lifestyle.

1. Avoid purine-rich food

Purines are naturally occurring chemicals found in some foods. Examples of foods that are high in purines include:

After consumption, your body breaks down the purines into another substance: uric acid. 

Excess uric acid is typically eliminated when you urinate. In some cases, however, it builds up too quickly for your body to process, and uric acid crystals accumulate in your joints. These sharp crystal formations are what cause intense pain and swelling.

Purine-rich foods are also linked with medical issues such as chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure, and obesity. Aim for a balanced diet high in fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean protein to reduce your risk of a gout attack and improve your overall health.

2. Reduce your alcohol intake

Alcohol, especially beer, tends to contain a high level of purine. Studies show that even one beer per day can significantly increase your risk of a gout flare-up, and that risk goes up with every drink you consume.

Alcohol also prevents your kidneys from filtering the uric acid efficiently. This can cause it to go back into your bloodstream and travel to your joints, triggering a gout attack.

3. Stay hydrated

Increase your water intake to help your kidneys flush out surplus uric acid. While your recommended daily water intake will vary based on factors such as your age and weight, drinking a glass of water with each meal, before and after exercise, and when you feel thirsty can help prevent gout attacks.

If you struggle to stay hydrated because you don't enjoy drinking plain water, try adding flavor with fresh fruit or cucumber slices. Fruits and vegetables also contain water that contributes to your daily hydration goal.

4. Maintain a healthy weight

The more extra weight you carry, the harder it is for your kidneys to work efficiently. Decreased kidney function can lead to more uric acid crystal formation in your joints and a greater risk of a gout attack.

Maintaining a healthy weight can help lower uric acid levels and prevent painful gout flare-ups. Gradual weight loss through diet and exercise can also fend off a host of other weight-related medical conditions, like diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.

Take steps to get relief

Gout attacks can cause severe pain and keep you from activities you enjoy. Your treatment plan by the Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center experts focuses on your unique needs and gout triggers so you can relieve symptoms and prevent future episodes. 

To learn more about how we can help you manage gout, call or go online to make an appointment at one of our five convenient locations in Colorado.

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