Tis’ the Season when gout will flareDr. Veita Bland / December 5, 2015
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It’s a Matter of Your Health
We are in the mist of the eating season. We all want to go to those fabulous parties and dinners and just devoir that food as if there is no tomorrow. After all, we only get Grandma’s and Auntie’s wonderful cooking once a year and that time is now. How long did you dream about their signature recipes, almost being able to taste that food in your mind?
Well, remember there can be too much of a good thing. This might be especially so if you suffer from gout. Gout is a very painful form of arthritis. It usually starts off in just one joint, usually a big toe, an ankle or a knee. That joint usually is so painful that it can hardly be touched. I have seen many a shoe mutilated in the name of comfort from gout. That joint may turn red and is usually swollen.
The most definitive way to diagnose gout is to remove fluid from the joint and have it tested for crystals. These crystals with their sharp points cause a lot of the pain of gout. Your healthcare provider will most likely draw labs looking for uric acid. This chemical is high in most patients who suffer from gout.
In the acute phase of gout the name of the game is to reduce the pain and swelling. If your health will permit, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications will be given. If there is a problem with the kidneys, the liver, a history of stomach ulcers or in some cardiac patients this may not be appropriate. Other meds that are used include colchicine and steroids sometimes injected in the affected joints or taken by mouth. Once the acute attack is over some patients may not experience another but if you do, other measures such as taking medications that reduce the amount of uric acid in the body would be appropriate.
Some things have been found common in people who suffer from gout. Most are obese. Many studies have shown that reducing the weight and getting as close as one can to their ideal weight would be helpful in avoiding gout. Remember, gout is thought to also affect the heart and studies are now in progress looking to see if medications used for gout can reduce cardiovascular problems.
Red meat and seafood such as shrimp should be eaten in moderation as they are known to exacerbate gout. Moderation in alcohol such as beer, wine and hard liquor should be practiced as they too can exacerbate gout.
Watch foods that contain high fructose syrup such as sodas and most store bought sweets such as cakes and cookies to avoid a gout flair.
If your uric acid level is down, below six, an occasional ride on the food wild side maybe tolerated by your body. It is much more appropriate and effective to control the uric acid level by medication than by food.
So, if you have gout, and you know your uric acid level is not where it should be, you may have to decrease those wonderful foods such as shrimp and grits, steaks, alcohol, and store bought sweets to protect your joints and your heart during this festive season.
Veita Bland is a board certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Email Dr. Bland at firstname.lastname@example.org.