Although once thought of only as a "rich man's disease," gout can affect nearly anyone, either as a chronic condition or as a side effect of certain medications. You inherit the chronic type of gout. Secondary gout occurs sometimes when you suddenly start specific medicines. This can occur even if you never had gout previously, and it can cause just as much pain as chronic gout. Your doctor may recommend a course of action to counteract or control your gout. You should seek her counsel before you try alternative supplements, such as magnesium.
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Gout happens when you inherit a flaw in the way your body rids itself of excess uric acid. Eating certain foods such as organ meats and some types of fish such as anchovies and sardines that contain excessive amounts of purines produces excessive amounts of uric acid as a waste product. Most people still just flush out the uric acid through urination. People with gout, however, do not get rid of enough of it. It then settles in body joints.
This can happen anywhere in your body, but for most people with the disease, it occurs most frequently in their feet. As the acid settles there, it begins to crystallize. The crystals, characterized by sharp points, can suddenly jab into your joints and cause inflammation. This makes the skin in the area warm and red, and makes it extremely painful to move the joint even the slightest amount. A bed sheet resting on the area can cause pain, as can walking and moving in any way. Gout attacks typically occur for up to 10 days, with the middle few days producing the most intense pain.
You ingest the mineral called magnesium when you eat foods such as leafy green vegetables, nuts and whole grains, the University of Maryland Medical Center notes. Whether you take it in your food or as a supplement, magnesium has many functions to perform in your body. It helps to control the amount and use of calcium in your body. It also helps with muscle functions as well as your heart and kidneys.
Magnesium as a supplement may help reduce gout attacks because it helps to circulate your blood better. It does this by helping to get your heart to beat regularly. Because it lowers blood pressure, as the University of Maryland Medical Center notes, it reduces the strain on your heart. The more blood flows smoothly in your body, the less likely uric acid will crystallize in your joints because the fluid helps keep the acid moving until it can be expelled.
Taking supplements of magnesium usually produce only minor side effects that go away in a few days. For example, you may have a temporary change in digestion that produces diarrhea. The adjustment of your body to the supplement also may make you feel discomfort in your stomach temporarily. Some serious potential side effects may occur if you take way more magnesium than your doctor recommends. Your blood pressure may drop too low, which starves your body of oxygen because the blood cannot reach every area of your body effectively. You may experience bradycardia, a condition in which your heartbeats slow to fewer than 60 beats per minute. Too much magnesium can, in extreme cases cause you to fall into a coma or even to die.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.