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How to avoid a painful gout flare-up

What is gout?

Gout is a painful form of arthritis that most frequently affects the feet, especially the big toe. It is caused by too much uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is present naturally in everyone’s bodies, but in some people, the body produces too much or the kidneys cannot filter it out quickly enough. When this happens, uric acid can settle into the joint, causing gout symptoms of pain, stiffness, and swelling. These attacks often happen at night, and the pain may last several days or even weeks.

Foods and drinks that cause gout attacks

Certain foods and drinks are high in a substance called purines. Eating too much of these foods can lead to uric acid build-up and a painful gout attack. Foods high in purines include:

  • Shellfish (shrimp, crab, lobster)
  • Red meat
  • Anchovies, sardines, herring, mussels
  • Gravy
  • Bacon
  • Venison
  • Veal
  • Organ meats (kidney, liver, etc.)
  • High-fat foods
  • Soda or sugary drinks
  • Red wine
  • Beer

Although the list seems long, there are still many healthy foods that can be found at most holiday parties that will help you avoid problems. Fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, beans, and nuts are good choices. Be sure you drink plenty of water and other non-sugary beverages. Tea and coffee are fine in moderation. Most people who have gout find that a low-purine diet is well worth the effort to avoid pain and discomfort.

Treatment for gout

Besides following a low-purine diet, there are other treatments available to help you avoid gout symptoms:

  • Medication to reduce uric acid in the blood.
  • Pain relievers such as ibuprofen or naproxen (do not take aspirin, as it can make gout worse).
  • Elevating, icing, and resting the affected foot.
  • Working toward a healthy body weight. If you are overweight, this can make you more prone to gout. Losing excess weight with a healthy diet and regular exercise can improve symptoms.

Some medications can increase uric acid and gout symptoms, so be sure to talk with your podiatrist about all the medications and supplements you take. If you are experiencing pain in your feet or toes, be sure to talk with a podiatrist about your symptoms. Gout can be managed with proper treatment and care.

If you or a loved one is suffering from gout or any other issue that causes foot pain, you should schedule a visit with an experienced podiatrist. Call Kansas City Foot Specialists today to schedule an evaluation at (913) 338-4440, or request an appointment online so we can work with you to keep your feet healthy.