Gout is a painful type of arthritis that can affect one or multiple joints. Gout differs from other types of arthritis, because suffers don't experience constant pain, but instead have attacks when the affected joint or joints become swollen, painful and red. Typically pain increases two to three days after the start of the attack. Dietary changes can affect the likelihood of gout attacks, says MedlinePlus.
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Gout occurs when you either consume too many foods high in purines, bringing your uric acid levels up higher than the liver can handle, or when your liver and kidneys can't effectively eliminate normal levels of uric acid. When levels of uric acid in your body are too high, crystals form around the joints, causing them to become inflamed and uncomfortable.
Liver and Uric Acid
The liver needs to metabolize the uric acid before the kidneys can pass it out of the body through the urine. If either your liver or your kidneys have trouble processing the amount of uric acid produced by the body, uric acid builds up and may cause gout. Sometimes the difficulty gout sufferers have in processing uric acid occurs due to genetic abnormalities, but this is not always the case, states NYU Langone Medical Center.
Because uric acid is produced when the body breaks down foods that contain purines, avoiding these foods may help to limit the number of gout attacks you experience. Some examples of foods high in purines include organ meats, herring, shrimp, sardines, anchovies, red meat, oils, yeast, peas and beans, asparagus, spinach, mushrooms, cauliflower, gravies and consomme. Avoiding fatty foods, high-fructose drinks and alcohol and limiting meat consumption can also help prevent these attacks by keeping the uric acid level in the liver down, says MedlinePlus.
Losing weight slowly, exercising, getting plenty of rest, making sure to eat enough carbohydrates, limiting the use of diuretics, taking pain killers and using prescription medications that reduce pain, swelling and the amount of uric acid in your body can all help to prevent gout attacks. Corticosteroid injections can also help with the pain of a gout attack.
Diet and lifestyle changes may be the best option for treating gout that isn't severe, as the prescription gout medications that increase uric acid excretion or decrease uric acid production have numerous side effects, according to Milton S. Hershey Medical Center College of Medicine at Penn State. Once you start taking these medications you will need to keep taking them for the rest of your life to avoid further gout attacks.