If you've ever experienced gout, you know how painful it can be. Joints become swollen and inflamed, making it difficult to walk or stand. A main cause of gout is excessive levels of uric acid in the bloodstream, so your best defense is to avoid factors that contribute to the condition. Certain foods and medications, as well as excessive weight gain, may cause a gout flare-up.
Those diagnosed with gout often find the big toe is primarily affected. Symptoms are swelling, redness and tenderness. A flare-up may last for days or weeks, therefore it's important to know the common triggers to avoid another attack in the future. Here are five common triggers of gout:
1. A High Purine-Diet
Purines, which are natural compounds found in most foods, may break down and crystallize, forming into uric acid. What are some foods that are high in purines? High protein, such as red meat, organ meat and seafood.
This is why your podiatrist may inform you to cut back on these foods. Limit your intake of red meat and seafood if you're prone to gout. During a flare-up, it's best to avoid these foods altogether.
2. Beer Consumption
Alcohol is another major contributor of painful gout symptoms. Beer in particular contains high levels of purines. Lower your risk by avoiding beer and other alcoholic drinks.
3. Weight Gain
If you're overweight and prone to gout, losing weight could help you avoid a flare-up. Excessive weight causes stress on the feet. In addition, obesity puts stress on kidney function, therefore uric acid may not be flushed from the body adequately. Lose the weight sensibly, under your doctor's supervision, and your gout flare-ups just might diminish.
4. The Use of Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications
Certain prescription drugs, such as diuretics and blood pressure medications, may increase the risk of a gout attack. Aspirin may also contribute to a flare-up. If you use medications and are prone to gout, you should discuss this with your physician. Under these circumstances, alternate medications may be prescribed for you.
5. Injury to the Foot Joint
If you've experienced injury to your toe or foot joint, you're at a higher risk for developing gout. A damaged joint, whether from a present or past injury, is more susceptible to the formation of crystallized uric acid. Rehabilitation may help heal or repair injured joints, thus reducing the likelihood of a gout attack.
How Your Podiatrist Can Help
Because gout primarily affects the feet, scheduling an appointment with your podiatrist may help you overcome the discomfort. Treatment may include prescription medications to decrease uric acid production, as well as a course of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Over-the-counter pain relievers may help in less severe cases.
Your podiatrist may also recommend increasing your fluid intake, as dehydration may worsen the condition. To reduce swelling and inflammation, your doctor may also advise the use of cold compresses or ice packs on the joints for 20 minutes at at time. For more tips, contact a podiatrist such as Jeffrey M Marks DPM.