Gout is a form of arthritis that is characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, redness and tenderness in the joints–often in the big toe. Attacks generally last three to 10 days, followed by pain-free periods before the next flare-up occurs. Although there is no cure for gout, taking prescribed medications and making lifestyle changes can help to alleviate the pain of flare-ups, prevent future attacks, and avoid long-term damage to your joints. Always check with your health care provider before trying home remedies for gout flare-ups.
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Drink Plenty of Fluids
Gout is caused by a buildup of uric acid in the body. The Mayo Clinic recommends drinking eight to 16 cups of fluid a day, at least half of it water, to flush uric acid out of the body and alleviate the symptoms of gout. Alcohol inhibits uric acid excretion, so avoid it during attacks. Drinking coffee—regular or decaffeinated—may be associated with lower uric acid levels, but more research is needed to determine its role, if any, in the management of gout symptoms.
Improve Your Diet
Uric acid is a byproduct of the breakdown of purines, chemicals that occur naturally in the body and in certain foods. Eating a balanced diet and limiting purine-rich foods—including red meats, organ meats, herring, mackerel, mussels, lentils, dried peas, asparagus, spinach, mushrooms and yeast—can help to alleviate gout symptoms and prevent future attacks. Adding antioxidant foods such as dark-colored fruits (blueberries, cherries, and tomatoes) and certain vegetables (squash and bell peppers) can lower uric acid and prevent gout attacks, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Be Careful with Supplements
Vitamin C supplements may reduce uric acid levels in the blood, says the Mayo Clinic, but it hasn’t been studied as a specific remedy for gout. Omega-3 fatty acids may help to decrease inflammation, but should be avoided if you are taking blood thinners, including aspirin. Avoid taking vitamin A and niacin, which may trigger gout attacks. Check with your health care provider about the recommended doses of any supplement you are considering before adding to your diet.
Consider Herb Teas
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, teas made of certain herbs—separately or in combination—can be helpful in managing gout symptoms. For inflammation, try turmeric, bromelain, cat’s claw and devil’s claw. Cranberry supports kidney health, and cat’s claw reduces inflammation, supports immunity and has antibacterial and antifungal effects.
Meditation, deep breathing exercises and other relaxation techniques may help to manage the pain of gout flare-ups. Walking and other regular exercise routines help to relieve stress as well.
Apply Some Heat (and Cold)
Try alternating hot compresses for three minutes with a cold compress for 30 seconds for pain relief and improved circulation. Nettle tea compresses may also be effective, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.