How to Prevent and Treat Gout Flare-ups
It’s a sophisticated form of arthritis, one that’s characterized by the quick and severe waves of pain, tenderness, and redness, often in the big toe. It can subside, bringing days without pain, only to be followed by another onset of attacks, known as flare-ups. There is no cure for gout, although prevention and management techniques exist to reduce the side effects of this painful illness.
How is gout caused?
Gout is caused due to too much uric acid in the blood. High levels crystallize the acid, which forms around the bone or cartilage. The exact cause can be attributed to genetics, diet, and various medical conditions. However, those with gout cannot process the crystals properly, and so they collect in the joint. Genetics is the strongest influencer of your uric acid levels, while medical conditions can also affect them, with diet far behind. For the latter, it is believed that a healthy diet, mixed with exercise, can help manage uric levels. Specifically, avoiding foods such as shellfish, red meat, and beer help to control gout.
How can you prevent gout?
The best way to prevent gout is to focus on your uric acid levels, doing what you can to keep them under control. Achieving this involves lifestyle and dietary changes, focusing on drinking plenty of fluids to flush out the uric acid, as well as eating foods with low levels of purine (the compound that creates uric acid). There is plenty of advice out there circulating eating healthier and exercising. Some say coffee and vitamin C help. Other studies show that meditation and breathing can help, mixed with alternating between hot and cold compresses. The general theme here is that, to manage your uric acid levels, you should lead a healthy lifestyle. Everything said, there is no sure-fire, end-all solution out there, only ways to lower your uric acid levels. Even medicinally, there is no medicine explicitly used to treat gout, just medication to treat other illnesses that help with controlling uric acid levels associated with gout. As far as medications, Allopurinol is often used to give baseline control. Colchicine and Indomethacin are used to help with flares.
What do you do during a flare-up?
Prevention is an excellent method of dealing with gout; however, if you already have it, what do you do during a flare-up to alleviate the pain? Let’s assume you are woken up in the middle of the night by an attack: first, you need to schedule an appointment with a doctor as soon as you can. Gout is usually not life-threating, but getting treatment within the first 24 hours of the start of attack is recommended. Without professional help, this will remain a problem. Second, take some anti-inflammatory, over-the-counter medicine such as Motrin, Advil, Aleve. Do not take any aspirin, as it can make it worse. Second, create an ice pack for yourself, putting it on the affected area, and drink plenty of fluids while you do this. Take the pressure off your foot and elevate it, so it’s higher than your heart. Avoid alcohol and try to relax – there’s not much else you can do until you see your doctor. Also, considering eating tart cherries or tart cherry extracts for management of gout. Obviously, if you have any type of allergies, don’t do this.
Gout is incredibly painful when it kicks in. Dealing with gout on your own, without professional help, will only make the situation worse. DIY solutions are a short-term solution to a long-term problem. As soon as you have an attack, schedule an appointment with us at Warner Orthopedics & Wellness. We can evaluate your situation, helping you take the proper steps toward recovery. Don’t deal with gout on your own, contact us today!