Who gets gout? Not only the rich folks of yesteryear who sat in their hoity toity mansions eating rich meats and drinking a lot. Rather, it’s individuals who either produce too much or excrete too little uric acid (part genetics, part lifestyle, part mystery). Most of the time, it’s middle-aged men and post-menopausal women. Gout is a form of arthritis in which uric acid builds up in the body, forms jagged, needle-like crystals which build up in a joint. As you can imagine, this leads to severe pain and general grumpiness and impatience with fools. The uric acid crystals almost always form in the large joint of the big toe, though it can show up in knees, elbows, feet, wrists, and fingers. This is why gout – a disease that sometimes requires sufferers to quit drinking beer – is so terrible. Whom, merciful god, was beer created for if not these very people?
But wait, there’s good news. Gout is one of the most treatable forms of arthritis. In this article, getting rid of gout pain and preventing gout attacks will be discussed using a variety of research-based methods. You’ll have to make a few lifestyle changes, sure, but gout pain is a great motivator. However, before you set about making changes and purchasing natural gout treatments (right), go to the doctor. You must. First of all, gout can be a sign of other underlying problems, and there are many ailments that mimic gout. Secondly, prescription medications are often necessary to prevent future attacks. Gout, when left untreated or allowed to constantly flare up (chronic gout), can lead to joint damage, decreased mobility, and even deformity.
Best Ways to Get Rid of Gout
Get rid of gout pain by taking NSAIDs and resting and icing the afflicted joint.
Typically, a gout attack will come on swiftly and leave gradually. During this time, you need to rest the joint and keep it elevated. Wait until those jagged shards of uric acid are gone before you get active, lest you damage the joint. Icing and taking NSAIDs (Advil, Motrin, Aleve) will reduce swelling and irritation, but stay away from aspirin, which can adversely affect uric acid levels. Doctors can prescribe stronger NSAIDs (indomethacin) and steroids for severe cases. Skip to the bottom to find out more about prescription drugs for gout pain relief and prevention.
To get rid of gout, follow a diet low in purines.
Uric acid is formed when the body breaks down purines. So it makes sense that if you want to get rid of gout, you need to reduce or get rid of purines. Purine-rich foods include all meats (especially organ meats), gravy, anchovies, sardines, mackerel, herring, and other fish and seafood. Other foods like mushrooms, lentils, kidney beans, and asparagus contain a moderate amount of purines. Alas, beer is especially high in purines. It is unrealistic to become a vegetarian if you’re a devoted carnivore or a saint if you require booze. Rather, try to limit meat portions to 3 to 4 ounces daily. Drink in moderation.
The gout diet requires more than just avoiding beer, meat, and seafood.
Yes, there are other delicious foods you’ll need to avoid, but others may improve and prevent gout. Fried foods and foods cooked in oil annihilate vitamin E, which in turn leads to an increase of uric acid. Sweets and sodas also exacerbate gout. Conversely, for reasons not yet known, consuming low-fat dairy products (especially skim milk and low fat yogurt) has been shown to reduce instances of gout. Trading deep-fried scallops for low fat strawberry yogurt may seem unfair, sort of like the Bulls trading Michael Jordan for Barbara Streisand. But if Michael Jordan gave Chicagoans gout, the deal would have been done.
Avoid gout attacks by maintaining a healthy weight.
Obesity and lack of exercise are major risk factors for gout attacks, so if you’re going to get rid of gout, you’ll have to get rid of those pounds. That being said, losing weight too quickly – either through low-calorie crash dieting or ill-advised weight loss supplements – will certainly make the problem worse or usher in harsher gout attacks. You must lose the weight in the manner all doctors recommend: by eating a healthy, balanced diet and getting exercise. Yes, you probably need to reduce your caloric intake, but not to the point where you’re starving your body.
Get rid of gout by staying well hydrated.
Drinking plenty of water is, of course, essential for a healthy body, but it is especially important for gout sufferers. Frequent dehydration is a major risk factor for gout attacks. Indeed, recent studies found that drinking five to eight glasses of water daily significantly reduced instances of gout. So drink your water and your skim milk. It will promote the excretion of uric acid and purines, and it will dilute the amount of uric acid in your blood and urine.
Best Medical Treatments for Gout
Medications for Gout Attacks. Prescription NSAIDs – particularly indomethacin and naproxen – are the most popular drugs used to reduce the swelling and pain of a gout attack. Cholchicine, which works similarly to NSAIDs, is also popular and works well when used early in an attack. When these don’t work (or patients cannot use them because of existing conditions or medications), patients will be prescribed steroids, administered either orally or with a syringe.
Medications that prevent gout attacks. If you’ve had one gout attack, you’ll likely have another. Sometimes making the lifestyle and dietary changes listed above is enough to get rid of gout for good. More often than not, you’ll need to take a medication to prevent future attacks. These drugs work by either helping the body to excrete uric acid (probenecid) or by limiting the body’s production of uric acid (allopurinol). One note: DO NOT start taking these drugs during an attack if you haven’t been taking them consistently. Currently, new drugs are nearing the final stages of testing and should hit the market soon. Pegloticase (Puricase) is a promising new drug that may get rid of gout that is recurrent or resistant to other treatments.
Gout, Alcohol, and Beer
Gout is a mean disease. You suffer extreme pain and immobility caused by sharp crystals lodged in your joints…and then you’re not supposed to drink? Alcohol is said to increase your risk of a gout attack in two ways. First of all, it causes your body to produce more uric acid.
Secondly, it hinders your body’s ability to excrete uric acid. However, alcohol content may not be as important as once thought. Beer, presumably because of its high purine content, is far worse than spirits or wine. Wine, by a large margin, had the least effect on gout.
Some sources advise gout sufferers to quit drinking altogether. Others recommend drinking only in moderation. I tend to side with the latter experts, because sometimes booze is vital for survival. When you require a buzz, try wine or switch to light beer. Always drink plenty of water the night of and morning after.
Get Rid of Gout Pain Naturally
Cherries. Cherries and other berries (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries) have long been used as a folk remedy to prevent gout attacks. Most highly-esteemed medical publications also recommend or mention cherries, but with the reminder that more research needs to be done. Cherries combat gout with bioflavonoids that lower uric acid levels and reduce inflammation. It would be wise to make these berries part of your diet; however, using tart cherry extract supplements or cherry juice concentrate (both found at health food stores) will provide a stronger dose of gout-fighting bioflavonoids. Amazon sells Tart Cherry juice.
Coffee. In two large, longitudinal studies, researchers found that drinking four or more cups of coffee daily can dramatically reduce the risk of gout attacks. Drinking decaf was only associated with a slightly reduced risk. Yes! Now I have one more way to defend my fiendish relationship with caffeine. So, the java can help get rid of gout, but then you’ll need to find a way to get rid of the jitters too.
Fish Oil. So first I tell you that you can’t eat fish or seafood because of the high purine content, and then I recommend fish oil? Yes. Pharmaceutical-grade, molecularly distilled fish oil supplements are safe to use for gout. Fish oil contains omega – 3 fatty acids which block and suppress the chemical processes that lead to inflammation. These supplements can be used to get rid of gout pain during an attack, but they are better used as a preventative measure. Amazon sells Fish Oil so you can start preventing gout sooner rather than later.
DMSO. This topical gout treatment (dimethyl sulfoxide ) is great for gout attacks, but it is somewhat of a controversy. DMSO is a byproduct created during the process of making paper. Doesn’t sound too natural, does it? At least it comes from trees. Regardless, many people swear it is the one thing that can get rid of gout pain and inflammation. Buy DMSO from a health food store; don’t buy the industrial grade stuff found at hardware stores.
Apitherapy. Though the American Apitherapy Society might disagree, this is a fringe treatment for gout that has worked in some cases. It involves being injected with honey bee venom, either with a syringe or by actual bees. If, like me, you’re severely allergic to bee venom, it would certainly get rid of gout forever. Anyhow, bee venom purportedly has anti-inflammatory properties and, more importantly, it boldly calls the immune system to action. Seek out this treatment when all else has failed.