GOUT FAST FACT
40 percent of Americans don’t know that gout is one of the most painful forms of arthritis.
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Gout Self-Care Strategies
Gout Self-Care with Exercise and Lifestyle Changes
Adjusting your diet, combined with exercise, weight loss and taking medications as prescribed, will help manage gout to make it less disruptive and to lower the frequency of attacks.
If gout is left untreated, it can lead to permanent joint damage and destruction of tissue. Extensive destruction of joints and large tophi (deposits of urate crystals that settle under the skin in the joint space and tendons), may lead to deformities, particularly of the hands and feet, and lead to progressive crippling.
Maintain a healthy, balanced diet
Avoid purine-rich foods and large amounts of foods containing a moderate concentration of purine, since they increase the amount of uric acid in the body and may trigger a gout attack. Low fructose intake is important as well. Click here for more on a gout-friendly diet.
Aim for moderate-intensity physical activity for at least 30 minutes most days of the week, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Moderate-intensity exercise is intended to increase breathing or heart rate.
Types of suggested exercise for gout patients include:
- Walking briskly
- Mowing the lawn
- Bicycling on level terrain
Work with your physician to develop an appropriate exercise program tailored to your body, lifestyle and needs. Always check with your physician before starting an exercise program.
Maintain a healthy body weight.
Increasing the intensity or the amount of time you are physically active is also beneficial to prevent weight gain. An obese person is four times more likely to develop gout than someone with a normal weight. Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. Click here to calculate your BMI. Avoid crash diets because quick or extreme weight loss can increase the amount of uric acid in the body.
Water is vital for transporting nutrients throughout the body and eliminating waste. Water also helps regulate body temperature and cushion joints and tissues. Many dietitians recommend consuming at least 64 ounces of water daily, and more if you exercise. Research also suggests that drinking adequate water might guard against kidney stones and constipation. Some experts also believe that drinking water can help remove uric acid from the bloodstream.
Drink less alcohol, especially beer.
Consumption of alcohol, especially beer which is high in purines, can increase the amount of uric acid in your body. For men, who are most at risk for gout, it is suggested to limit consumption to no more than two drinks per day. Women over age 65 should limit their intake to one drink per day.
Take medication as directed.
Work with your doctor to find the right medication to effectively manage your gout, and always take medication as directed. Your doctor or pharmacist can answer questions about possible drug interactions or potential side effects.
Know your uric acid level.
Ask your physician to test your uric acid level at least twice per year. GOAL: under 6.0mg/dL.
Know what to do when an acute gout attack strikes.
- Rest the affected joint for 24 hours after the initial attack or until the pain eases
- Elevate painful joints
- Apply cold packs for 20-30 minutes several times per day
- Relieve inflammation by taking over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine (NSAIDs) such as Advil® or Aleve® or any medication you have been prescribed for this purpose such as colchicines or corticosteroids such as Prednisone or Methylprednisolone.
NOTE: Do not take aspirin other than low-dose aspirin (75-325 mg/day) for prevention and/or treatment of cardiovascular disease or stroke even during an acute gout attack. Aspirin may abruptly change uric acid levels and make the symptoms of gout worse.