Gout is characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, redness and tenderness in joints, often the joint at the base of the big toe. An acute attack of gout can wake you up in the middle of the night with the sensation that your big toe is on fire. The affected joint is hot, swollen and so tender that even the weight of the sheet on it may seem intolerable. Fortunately, gout is treatable, and there are ways to reduce the risk that gout will recur.
Gout occurs when urate crystals accumulate in your joint, causing the inflammation and intense pain of a gout attack. Urate crystals can form when you have high levels of uric acid in your blood. Your body produces uric acid when it breaks down purines, substances that are found naturally in your body, as well as in certain foods, such as organ meats, anchovies, herring, asparagus and mushrooms.
Normally, uric acid dissolves in your blood and passes through your kidneys into your urine. But sometimes your body either produces too much uric acid or your kidneys excrete too little uric acid. When this happens, uric acid can build up, forming sharp, needle-like urate crystals in a joint or surrounding tissue that cause pain, inflammation and swelling.
- Intense joint pain. Gout usually affects the large joint of your big toe, but it can occur in your feet, ankles, knees, hands and wrists
- Lingering discomfort.
- Inflammation and redness.
Treatment for gout usually involves medications. Gout medications can be used to treat acute attacks and prevent future attacks as well as reduce your risk of complications from gout.
Medications are the most proven, effective way to treat gout symptoms. However, making certain changes to your diet also may help.
- Drink 8 to 16 cups of fluid each day, with at least half being water.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Eat a moderate amount of protein, preferably from healthy sources, such as low-fat or fat-free dairy, tofu, eggs, and nut butters.
- Limit your daily intake of meat, fish and poultry to 113 to 170 grams.
Choose portions that allow you to maintain a healthy weight. Losing weight may decrease uric acid levels in your body, compare that with a healthy and balanced diet and regular physical exercises and you will have an overall winning combination to combat many diseases.