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Understanding Gout- How to Reduce Flares

This blog entry is coming from a conversation between Dr. Isabelle Amigues, your friendly rheumatologist based in Denver, Colorado, with Dr. Tolulope Olabintan, a primary care physician and podcast host all about what Gout is, how it occurs, and how to manage it effectively.




Gout is a form of arthritis characterized by severe pain in the joints. This pain is caused by the buildup of uric acid in the body, which crystallizes and deposits in the joints. When your body either produces too much uric acid or fails to excrete enough of it, these painful crystals form, leading to what we call a gout flare.



Symptoms of Gout


Gout is notorious for its sudden and intense pain. Even the lightest touch can be excruciating during a flare. Common symptoms include:

  • Severe joint pain, often in the big toe

  • Swelling and redness

  • Warmth in the affected joint

  • Limited range of motion



Causes and Triggers of Gout


The primary cause of gout is hyperuricemia, or high levels of uric acid in the blood. Various factors can contribute to this, including diet, medication, and underlying health conditions.



Dietary Triggers


Foods high in purines can elevate uric acid levels. Notable culprits include:

  • Red meat

  • Seafood

  • Alcohol, especially beer

  • Medication Triggers

  • Certain medications, like diuretics used to treat hypertension or heart failure, can increase the risk of gout flares.



Other Health Conditions


Kidney disease can impair the body’s ability to excrete uric acid, leading to increased levels and a higher risk of gout.



Managing and Preventing Gout


Diet plays a crucial role in managing gout. Here are some dietary adjustments that can help:


  • Reduce Red Meat and Seafood: These are high in purines, which can exacerbate gout.

  • Limit Alcohol Intake: Especially beer, which is particularly high in purines.

  • Incorporate Cherries: Studies suggest that cherries may help reduce the risk of gout flares.

  • Increase Vitamin C Intake: Vitamin C-rich foods can potentially lower uric acid levels.



Medical Management


For many patients, dietary changes alone may not be sufficient. Medications such as allopurinol can help reduce uric acid levels. It’s important to work closely with your physician to manage these medications effectively and prevent flares during the adjustment period.



Collaboration with Healthcare Providers


If you’re starting a new medication or have underlying conditions like hypertension, inform your healthcare provider about your gout. They can tailor your treatment to minimize the risk of flares.



Can Gout Go Away?


Yes, gout can be controlled and potentially go into remission with proper management. This includes a combination of dietary adjustments, medications, and lifestyle changes. The goal is to reduce uric acid levels to prevent future flares and maintain a pain-free life.



Is Gout Hereditary?


There is a genetic component to gout, meaning if you have a family history of the condition, you may be at higher risk. However, lifestyle choices can significantly impact whether or not you develop gout. By understanding your triggers and managing your diet and health proactively, you can reduce your risk.



Conclusion


Gout is a painful but manageable condition. By understanding the causes and triggers, making informed dietary choices, and working closely with your healthcare provider, you can control and even prevent gout flares. At Unabridged MD, we are dedicated to helping patients manage and overcome gout and other inflammatory conditions. If you or someone you know is looking for a rheumatologist in the Denver or Colorado area, we are currently accepting new patients. It’s our pleasure to help you improve your quality of life.




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