Gout is a rheumatic disease that is especially painful. Caused by uric acid crystals that build up in the spaces between joints and in the connective tissues, gout results in stiffness and pain in the joints. A type of inflammatory arthritis, gout affects more men than women. Women are more likely to suffer from gout after menopause.
Symptoms of Gout
Gout is often referred to as feet or toe disease. This is because one of the most common symptoms of gout is severe pain in the big toe or feet. Apart from the toe, gout can affect other joints such as the knees and wrist as well. Other symptoms of gout include:
- Gout first appears as nodules or В‘tophiВ’ in the joints of the hands, elbows and ears
- A gout attack begins without any warning and can last for a few hours to over a week. Gout attacks tend to happen in the night or the early hours of the morning.
- Gout pain in the joints is characterized by a warm or hot feeling along with a swelling of the affected area.
- During the attack, the joint or area around the joint may become red or even purple in color.
- As the pain and swelling subside, you are left with peeling and itchy skin around the affected area.
- Some people may have a fever during the gout attack.
- Gout makes the joints stiff, severely restricting mobility.
- In some cases, there are no visible symptoms of gout. It is these cases that are more likely to develop into chronic gout, as they tend to remain untreated.
Causes of Gout
High levels of uric acid in the blood cause gout. When you eat foods rich in purines such as organ meats, yeast, and oily fish for example, the body breaks down the purines and produces uric acid. Under normal circumstances, uric acid is flushed out of the body through the kidneys and by urinating. However, if the body is producing too much uric acid for the kidneys to process, the levels of uric acid can rise dramatically, creating a condition called hyperuricemia. This causes needle like crystals of uric acid builds up around the joints and connective tissues that results in severe inflammation and pain. Other causes of gout and risk factors include:
- Genetics and Heredity: If your parents or other members in your family have gout, you are at a higher risk of developing the disease. In such cases, preventive measures such as changing your diet and reducing your alcohol consumption can help delay the onset of gout.
- Age and Sex: Gout affects a larger percentage of middle-aged men. Men have higher levels of uric acid in the body as compared to women and this may be why this happens. Where women are concerned, gout cases are found mainly in post-menopausal women.
- Alcohol Abuse: Drinking alcohol especially beer is said to cause gout. Yeast is considered the culprit out here as a diet heavy with yeast-based products may also lead to gout. Alcohol also interferes with the removal of uric acid in the body and therefore leads to high levels causing gout.
- Eating a Diet High in Protein: Having a diet that mainly consists of red meats, organ meats and oily fish can make you more susceptible to the development of gout.
- A sedentary Life / Lack of Exercise: Obesity is also linked to the development of gout. A regular exercise routine can help boost immunity and prevent obesity.
- Other Medical Conditions: If you suffer from other diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure, you may be more predisposed to developing gout.
- Medication: Certain medications could cause a rise in uric acid levels in the body. Studies show that diuretic drugs used to treat high blood pressure, anti-rejection drugs used after transplant surgery and even aspirin can increase the level of uric acid in the body and cause gout.
- Research indicates that some people may have an enzyme defect that could interfere with the bodyВ’s natural ability to break down purines and create uric acid. This could also lead to gout.
- A prolonged exposure to lead can cause gout as well.
Remedies for Gout
Medical attention is essential in the treatment of gout, but the condition can be managed effectively with natural measures as well. Natural methods of management prove more effective in the long run and also pose little to no risk of side effects. For this reason, doctors also stress the importance of lifestyle and diet modifications in the management of gout. Medications typically include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs to reduce the painful symptoms of gout. If the pain is severe, stronger doses may be required. Prescription drugs such as Colchicine or
corticosteroids help reduce pain and swelling as well. While medical treatment may be effective in treating the painful symptoms as and when they surface, it does nothing to prevent attacks from recurring or from the gout turning chronic. For this, natural cures for gout are more successful by far. Some gout relief home remedies you can try are:
- Lime is not only an excellent source of vitamin C but the citric acid found in lime also helps dissolve uric acid. The vitamin C in lime also cures sore joints and strengthens the tissues in the body. Drink a glass of water with the juice of half a lime at least twice a day for visible results.
- Another natural treatment for gout is charcoal. Make a paste out of water and charcoal powder (half cup). Apply this to the affected and swollen joint for effective relief from pain. This is one of the best home remedies for gout in the foot. Soak the foot in this mixture for thirty minutes at a time.
- Other treatments for gout in the foot involve the use of herbs such as ginger root, devilВ’s claw root or white willow bark. Herbal supplements such as licorice, boswellia and feverfew can also be taken. These herbs have anti-inflammatory properties can reduce the symptoms of gout. Consult with a trained herbal doctor to find out correct dosages and to prevent overuse.
- Try a capsule of safflower to improve blood circulation and reduce pain and inflammation in the case of gout.
- Blend mustard powder along with whole-wheat powder and water and apply to the swollen join. You can leave this paste on overnight for the best results.
- Soaking the affected foot in a bath of warm water and ground ginger can treat gout in the toes and feet. Soaking the feet in this mix increases the elimination of uric acid by inducing perspiration.
Diet for Gout
One of the most effective ways to prevent gout from developing is by changing your diet and eating habits. Some suggestions for diet for gout include:
- Including cherries in your diet. Cherries В– both sweet and sour cherries are full of antioxidants that can relieve inflammation and pain symptomatic of a gout attack. Eat a minimum of 20 fresh cherries a day for the best results. Do this preferably as soon as you get up in the morning.
- Eating apples can neutralize the levels of uric acid in the body. The malic acid found in apples provides relief from gout pain. Eat an apple after every meal for this to be effective.
- Bananas are high in potassium required to treat gout. Potassium helps transform crystals of uric acid into liquid form making them easier to be flushed out of the body. A banana diet for four days can works wonders in treating symptoms of a gout attack.
Other gout friendly foods include:
- Green leafy vegetables such as cabbage, kale, and parsley
- Foods rich in vitamin C such as tomatoes, red bell peppers, oranges and red cabbage
- Low-fat dairy products
- Foods high in essential fatty acids such as salmon
Apart from including these additions to your diet, avoid the following foods to prevent gout from recurring:
- Organ meats such as brain, liver, and kidney
- Oily fish such as herrings, mackerel, scallops, and anchovies
- Refined sugar
- White flour
- Fried and oily foods
- Processed foods
- Canned foods
- Carbonated beverages
- Alcohol especially beer
- Meat extracts
Suggestions for Gout
Some helpful suggestions for gout include:
- If you suffer from gout on your feet, keep them elevated during an attack. This reduces the pressure put on the joints and can lessen the pain as well.
- Using alternative hot and cold compresses on the affected area has been known to help relieve pain and inflammation. Apply a cold compress to the area for approximately ten minutes and then place a hot compress on the same area for another ten minutes.
- Gout attacks are more frequent if you are obese. Losing ten pounds or more can decrease the number of attacks significantly so start exercising and controlling your diet at the earliest. Regular exercise also helps the system flush out extra uric acid and prevents any build up from happening. Exercise also improves blood circulation and this can in turn reduce inflammation during an attack.