What Is Gout and How Is It Treated?
Gout or gouty arthritis is a complex type of arthritis. It causes sudden attacks of joint pain, redness and swelling. Gout often occurs in the base joint of the big toe, but it can develop anywhere in the body.
Gout stems from high levels of uric acid in the joints. Men are more susceptible to developing gout, but it can affect anyone. Women usually get gout after they reach menopause. Even children and teenagers can have gouty arthritis.
Severe joint pain is a key symptom of gout. Gouty arthritis causes intense joint pain in the feet, toes, ankles, hands, wrists and knees. Other gout symptoms include lingering pain and discomfort, joint inflammation and redness.
People who experience gout symptoms often seek medical treatment. Medication is the most proven and effective gout treatment. Doctors often prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs to control pain and swelling. NSAIDs are available as over-the-counter or prescription drugs.
Colchicine is another common gout treatment. This drug is most effective when taken at the onset of symptoms. The effectiveness is sometimes offset by difficult side effects like nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.
Corticosteroids are also prescribed for gout pain and inflammation. These drugs are administered in pill form or by injection. They are usually reserved for people who cannot take colchicine or NSAIDs.
Drugs that block uric acid buildup or improve its removal are other common treatments. Home remedies include adequate fluid consumption, alcohol avoidance, moderate protein intake and nutritional supplements like cherry extract and vitamin C.
Gout Diet and Supplements
Although medications are the best way to relieve gout pain, dietary changes can also be helpful. The American Dietetic Association recommends drinking up to four liters of water a day to remove uric acid from the body. Alcohol can worsen gouty arthritis, so people should limit their intake of alcoholic beverages.
A gout diet contains a moderate amount of protein from healthy, low-fat sources. Eggs, fat-free dairy products, tofu and nut butters are good ways to get protein into the diet. Gout sufferers should limit their intake of red meat, fish and poultry, as these proteins may aggravate gout.
Cherries and other red or blue berries may lower uric acid production and prevent gout flare-ups. With doctor approval, this may be a good way to supplement medical treatment. Eating more fruits and vegetables can increase vitamin C intake, which is also good in moderate amounts. Some studies have even found a link between coffee, with or without caffeine, and lower uric acid levels. While these remedies may not prevent gout, they can minimize flare-ups and ease the pain.