What is gout?

    Gout is a metabolic disorder that causes acute, intermittent and painful attacks of arthritis in the joints of the foot, knee, ankle, hand and wrist.

    Gout occurs most frequently in men between the ages of 40 and 60.

    Gout can be associated with diets that are high in animal protein and alcohol.

    Gout usually only affects one joint at a time (sometimes two) most often the feet and ankles. The joint at the base of the big toe is the most common site.


    What causes gout?

    Gout occurs as a result of excess uric acid in the blood and tissues.

    There are many cause of high uric acid and include:

    • Some people just have higher levels which is hereditary.
    • Obesity.
    • High alcohol intake.
    • High intake of food that contain purines.
    • Some of the drugs used to treat high blood pressure can precipitate a gouty attack.
    • Those with kidney disease may also develop high levels of uric acid.
    • Drugs – including diuretics and antibiotics which can interfere with the normal excretion of uric acid.
    • Surgical operations
    • Unusual physical exercise


    Who is at risk?

    Gout is a common joint disease affecting over five times more men than women.


    How is gout treated?

    When an acute attack of gout occurs, anti-inflammatory drugs are usually very effective to help gain control of the gout symptoms in the first 12-24 hours. Rest and elevation of the foot is important.

    Once the attack has passed, the next step is to help prevent recurrences by addressing trigger factors.

    In most patients who have repeated attacks, long-term treatment to lower the level of uric acid in the blood below the level at which crystals form in the tissues is required.


    What food should be avoided?

    There are several things sufferers can do to help prevent a recurrence of gout. Once of these measures is to modified their diets. The following foods have higher levels of purines should be restricted or avoided:

    • Foods like liver, kidneys, sweetbreads and tongue.
    • Large amounts of red meat and Shellfish.
    • Peas. Lentils and beans.
    • Alcohol intake should be reduced.


    What should I do for self management of gout?

    • Take your medication as instructed by your doctor
    • Reduce your weight
    • Take dietary advice to lower your intake of proteins.


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