Gout is sometimes referred to as the “disease of kings” because it long has been associated incorrectly with the kind of overindulgence in food and wine only the rich and powerful could afford.In fact, anyone can be affected, and the risk factors are varied.Fortunately, it is possible to treat gout and reduce its agonizing attacks by avoiding food triggers and taking advantage of medication options.
• Intense painful joint swelling, most often in the feet (and especially the big toe), may indicate gout.
• Treatment options exist, but therapy should be tailored for each individual.
• Avoiding alcohol and certain fish and meats may help prevent further gout attacks.
What is gout?
Gout is a painful and potentially disabling form of arthritis that has been recognized since ancient times. Initial symptoms usually consist of intense episodes of painful swelling in single joints, most often in the feet (especially the big toe).Treatments are available to control most cases of gout,but diagnosing this disorder can be difficult, and treatment plans often have to be tailored for each person.
What causes gout?
Gout occurs when excess uric acid (a normal waste product) accumulates in the body, and needle‐like crystals deposit in the joints.This may happen because either uric acid production increases or, more often, the kidneys are unable to remove uric acid from the body adequately. Certain foods,such as shellfish and alcohol, may increase uric acid levels and lead to gout attacks.Some medications also can increase uric acid levels.Examples of such medications include moderate‐dose aspirin (81 mg used for prevention of heart attack and stroke has minimal effect and generally can be continued), diuretics such as hydrochlorothiazide (Esidrix, Hydro‐D), and immunosuppressants used in organ transplantation such as cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) and tacrolimus (Prograf).
Over time, increased uric acid levels in the blood may lead to deposits of monosodium urate crystals in and around the joints. These crystals can attract white blood cells, leading to severe, painful gout attacks. Uric acid also can deposit in the urinary tract, causing kidney stones.
Who gets gout?
Gout afflicts up to 3 million Americans.This condition and its complications occur more often in men, women after menopause,and people with kidney disease.Gout is strongly associated with obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia and diabetes.Because of genetic factors,gout tends to run in some families.Gout rarely affects children.
How is gout diagnosed?
Several other kinds of arthritis can mimic gout,so proper diagnosis is essential. Health care providers suspect gout when a patient experiences joint swelling and intense pain initially in one or two joints followed– at least at first—by pain‐free periods between attacks. Initial gout attacks often begin at night.
A definite diagnosis depends on finding the characteristic crystals.The physician will use a needle to extract fluid from an affected joint and examine that fluid under a microscope to determine whether monosodium urate crystals are present.Crystals also can be found in deposits (called tophi) that can appear under the skin and occur in advanced gout.Uric acid levels in the blood are important to measure but can be misleading,as these may be temporarily normal or even low during attacks.Even people who do not have gout can have elevated uric acid levels.X-rays may show damage in gout of long duration. Ultrasound and dual energy computed tomography (commonly called CT) can show earlier features of gout joint involvement and also can help suggest the diagnosis.
How is gout treated?
One treatment for acute gout is colchicine, which can be effective if given early in the attack. However, colchicine can cause nausea,vomiting, diarrhea and other side effects.Side effects may be less frequent with low doses.Patients with kidney or liver disease,or who are taking drugs that affect colchicine metabolism, must take lower doses. Non‐steroidal anti‐inflammatory drugs—commonly called NSAIDs—are aspirin‐like medications that can decrease inflammation as well as pain in joints and other tissues.(more about gout treatment here)NSAIDs—such as indomethacin (Indocin) and naproxen (Naprosyn)—have become the treatment choice for most acute attacks of gout. There is no evidence that any one NSAID is better than others. High doses of short‐acting NSAIDs provide fastest relief of symptoms.
These medications may cause stomach upset, ulcers, or diarrhea but, if used for the short term, generally are well tolerated.
Some people are unable to take NSAIDs because of medical conditions such as ulcer disease, impaired kidney function or the use of blood thinners. Corticosteroids are important options in patients who cannot take NSAIDs or colchicine. Given orally or by injection into the muscle, they can be very effective in treating gout attacks. If only 1‐2 joints are involved, corticosteroids also can be injected directly into the joint. Resting the affected joint and applying cold compresses to the area also may help alleviate pain. Health care providers may prescribe anakinra (Kineret), an interleukin 1 beta-antagonist, for very severe attacks.
Patients who have repeated gout attacks, unusually high levels of serum uric acid, or tophi or kidney stones strongly should consider efforts to normalize blood uric acid levels. These medications do not help the painful flares of acute gout and generally should be started after acute attacks have subsided.Probenecid (Benemid) helps the kidneys eliminate uric acid.Only patients with good general kidney function who are not overproducers of uric acid should take probenecid. Allopurinol (Lopurin, Zyloprim) blocks production of uric acid and is most often the drug used to normalize blood levels. Febuxostat (Uloric) also acts by blocking production of uric acid and is a recent alternative.
Flares of gout often can occur during initiation and use of urate-lowering agents, so efforts at prevention of flares by use of low‐dose colchicine or NSAIDs are advised.Pegloticase (Krystexxa) is given by injection and breaks down uric acid.It can be used in patients who have failed or do not tolerate the other treatments. Additional new agents to normalize uric acid levels and to treat gouty inflammation are under development.
What works well for one person may not work as well for another, so decisions about when to start treatment and what drugs to use have to be tailored for each patient, and depend on kidney function and other factors. Once commitment is made to use agents to lower uric acid levels, therapy should be increased gradually with monitoring of serum urate until levels are less than 6 mg/dl, at which point crystals can be dissolved and new crystal deposits prevented.
Drinking alcohol should be reduced or stopped.Diets that restrict foods rich in the purines found in meat and certain types of seafood, fatty meals, or high‐fructose beverages may help. Purines in vegetables appear to be safe, and low‐fat dairy products may actually help lower uric acid levels.In almost all cases, it is possible to successfully treat gout so that the patient experiences a gradual end to attacks, and decreases in the number and size of tophi.
Broader health impacts of gout
Gout often is associated with hypertension and heart and kidney disease, or the use of medications that increase uric acid levels. Therefore, health care providers should test for these related conditions. Researchers are investigating whether lowering serum urate levels can help these diseases.
Living with gout
Gout affects quality of life both by the episodic attacks and potential for chronic arthritis. Compliance with medical regimens is critical. Lifestyle changes may make it easier to manage this lifetime disease. Suggestions include gradual weight loss, avoidance of alcohol and, reduced consumption of fructose‐containing beverages and foods and foods high in purines.
The rheumatologist’s role in the treatment of gout
The treatment of gout can be complicated by co‐existing medical conditions and other medications. As experts in the treatment of arthritis, rheumatologists evaluate patients to determine whether gout is the cause of their arthritis, educate them about the role and proper use of medications as well as other treatment measures, and act as a resource to primary care physicians.
Points to remember
• Episodic arthritis is a typical indicator of gout; identifying the characteristic crystals in the fluid in joints allows health care providers to make an accurate diagnosis.
• There are two types of treatment for gout: medications to control the attacks of joint pain, such as NSAIDs, colchicine and corticosteroids;
and medications used after attacks have resolved that can lower the level of uric acid in the body over time so the attacks occur less frequently or not at all.
• People with chronic gout often require lifetime treatment with drugs to lower uric acid levels.
• Lifestyle changes such as controlling weight, limiting alcohol consumption, and limiting meals with meats and fish rich in purines also can be helpful in controlling gout.
To find a rheumatologist
For a listing of rheumatologists in your area, click here.
Learn more about rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals.
For more information
The American College of Rheumatology has compiled this list to give you a starting point for your own additional Gout situation.
Gout:What To Eat and What Not To Eat
Foods NOT to Eat (Fatty and Purine-Rich Foods)
According to the American Medical Association, purine-containing foods to be avoided include:
• Beer, other alcoholic beverages.
• Anchovies, sardines in oil, fish roes, herring.
• Organ meat (liver, kidneys, sweetbreads)
• Meat extracts, consomme, gravies.
Foods which are very high in purines include:
Foods moderately high in purines include:
Other foods to avoid:
High fat foods such as cream sauses, fried foods and foods containing trans fat (partically hydrogenated vegetable oils)Avoiding purine-rich foods is only one aspect of treatment, drink plenty of fluids/water, exercise and maintain a healthy body weight. Diets designed for quick or extreme weight loss will work against you though — they increase uric acid levels in the blood.
During a gout flare up AVOID ALL Extremely Acid Forming Foods:
Artificial sweeteners, Carbonated soft drinks & fizzy drinks , Cigarettes , Flour (white wheat), Goat,Lamb, Pastries & cakes from white flour, Pork, Sugar, Beer, Brown sugar, Deer, Chocolate, Coffee ,Custard with white sugar, Jams, Jellies, Liquor, Pasta, Rabbit, Semolina, Table salt refined & iodized,Tea black, Turkey, Breads White / Wheat, White rice, vinegar.
Foods to Eat More Of!
According to the American Medical Association, a balanced diet for people with gout include foods:
• High in complex carbohydrates (whole grains, fruits, vegetables)
• Low in protein (15% of calories and sources should be fish (but not seafood), tofu, lean
• No more than 30% of calories from fat (10% animal fat)
Foods which may be beneficial to people with gout include:
• Dark berries and especially cherries may contain chemicals that lower uric acid and
• Tofu which is made from soybeans may be a better choice than meats.
• Certain fatty acids found in certain fish such as salmon, flax or olive oil, or nuts may
possess some anti-inflammatory benefits.
• Celery has been used over the centuries for arthritis, rheumatism, gout,
Choi’s research team followed 47,150 men with no prior history of gout over a 12-year period. The
conclusion: during the 12 year period of assessment, 730 men were diagnosed with gout.
• Study participants who consumed the highest amount of meat were 40 percent more
likely to have gout than those who ate the least amount of meat.
• Study participants who ate the most seafood were 50 percent more likely to have gout.
In this specific study, though, not all purine-rich foods were associated with an increased risk of gout.
There was no increased risk associated with a diet which included:
Even though these foods are considered high in purines. Choi’s team also found that low-fat dairy
products decrease the risk of gout and overall protein intake had no effect. Ultimately, diets shown
to be connected to gout are the same kinds of diet linked to cardiovascular disease.
• Obesity can be linked to high uric acid levels in the blood. People who are overweight
should consult with their doctor to decide on a reasonable weight-loss program. Fasting or severe
dieting can actually raise uric acid levels and cause gout to worsen.
• Consuming coffee in moderate amounts and tea is not a problem but alcohol can raise
uric acid levels and provoke an episode of gout. Drinking at least 10-12 eight-ounce glasses of nonalcoholic
fluids every day is recommended, especially for people with kidney stones, to help flush the
uric acid crystals from the body.
The most well researched aid for gout is Cherries.
Cherry juice concentrate is available as well as extracts in supplement form.Celery has been used over the centuries for arthritis, rheumatism, gout,Celery seed is used primarily as a diuretic to promote the excretion of urine. The diuretic action combined with the presence of anti-bacterial compounds in celery seed also make it useful in treating urinary tract infections. Laboratory studies have found that compounds in celery seed and its essential oil may also help reduce muscle spasms, calm the nerves, and reduce inflammation. In fact, some experts claim that celery seed alleviates the pain associated with certain inflammatory health conditions
such as arthritis and gout.
Bromelain is derived from pineapple. The proteolytic enzyme of pineapple has been proved to be an effective anti-inflammatory agent in both clinical human studies and experimental animal models.
It is a suitable alternative to stronger prescription anti-inflammatory agents used in the treatment of gout.2 Capsules of GoutPlex contain 1200 GDU of bromelain or 100mg.
Tumeric or Curcumin (Curcuma longa). One compound in turmeric (curcumin) inhibits the
synthesis of substances called prostaglandins in the body that are involved in pain. The mechanism
is similar to the one involved in the pain-relieving action of aspirin and ibuprofen.
At high doses, curcumin stimulates the adrenal glands to release the body’s own cortisone, a potent reliever of inflammation and the pain it often causes.Any substance to maintain healthy pH of body:Chlorella, coral calcium minerals. cucumbers, etc.