Gout or gouty arthritis is common among older individuals, especially men more than women. It is mainly due to the accumulation of uric acid crystal deposits in the joints.
This type of arthritis occurs when the levels of uric acid in the body is persistently very high, and uric acid crystals form in the joints and cause almost unbearable pain.
Gout is diagnosed through a blood test where the amount of uric acid in the blood is measured. An x-ray can be performed to determine the severity of the gout to the joints.
What Causes Gout?
Gout usually develops due to lifestyle and diet. This condition can be caused by over indulging in purine-rich foods, such as eating high volumes of organ meats and other meats, including pork, bacon, beef and lamb, and drinking too much beer. Other alcohol consumption, obesity, and old age can also contribute to gout.
What Are the Symptoms?
Gout attacks usually occur at night or early morning. There is a significant visible swelling and redness of the joints, a sense of tenderness, and a sharp pain in the affected areas.
The most common signs of gout are pain, swelling, tenderness and redness in the smaller joints of the extremities. Gout will first attack the joints of the toes and fingers and will work its way up to the wrists, ankles, knees, etc.
Gouty arthritis can take months or years to develop, and isn’t relieved easily. It can hasten the deterioration of joints.
Traditional Treatments for Gout
Medical practitioners may prescribe corticosteroids to relieve the pain of a gout attack. Anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen are also prescribed to alleviate the acute pain and inflammation.
Aspirin shouldn’t be taken at all, as it tends to increase the blood uric acid levels.
Medications to lower uric acid levels are also prescribed, but the main disadvantages of uric acid medications is their side effects. Prolonged intake of medications can be detrimental to the body, especially the kidneys and liver.
Natural Treatments for Gout
Instead of managing uric acid levels with medications, you can choose a diet and lifestyle to prevent and manage the problem. Here are a few natural treatments listed below.
Avoid eating purine-rich foods as mentioned earlier. Fatty meats and alcoholic beverages are your main enemies. They contribute to your uric acid accumulation, so eliminate or reduce them as much as possible.
Instead add foods rich in potassium and vitamin C, such as bananas and citrus fruits, to help relieve inflammation. Potassium and vitamin C lowers uric acid levels and helps prevent inflammation and pain during gout attacks.
Eat raw fruits and vegetables as they have a neutralizing effect against uric acid. When experiencing a gout attack, some people find eating a handful of cherries or a bowl of green vegetables helpful in relieving pain.
Keep Hydrated – Drink Lots of Water
Hydration is a simple way to assist in relieving and overcoming gout. Drink enough water to keep the body hydrated and this will help dilute uric acid levels and help flush them out of the body through the urine.
This doesn’t mean drinking beer or coffee, and if you smoke, it would be wise to give that up too. These vices contain substances that can increase the production of uric acid in the blood.
Exercise can prevent future gout attacks by normalizing insulin levels that in turn normalize blood uric acid levels. Exercise also improves circulation and increases a healthy supply of blood to the joints.
Hot and Cold Therapy
If you have a gout attack, place an ice pack over the affected area for a couple of minutes. The coldness will numb the senses and ease the pain for a while. Usually when inflammation is a problem, cold is the answer for reducing swelling.
However, some patients prefer the soothing warmth instead. If this is you, try placing a hot towel over the affected area.
Whichever method is more effective depends on the affected person.
Gout is one of those conditions that can be prevented through a healthy diet and lifestyle. It can be easily managed and relieved without relying on synthetic medications for the rest of your life.
Knowing what food to eat and more importantly, what not to eat, to prevent gout is the key to managing and preventing gout attacks forever.
As the saying goes, “Prevention is always better than cure!”