GOUT sounds like a gross word. But its a stark reality for more than 8.3 million Americans. The prevalence of gout in the U.S. has risen over the last twenty years and affects at least 4% of Americans. Gout affects more than just men, although it is commonly thought of as an ‘older male’ condition. Male to female incidence ratios are approximately 3:1. The healthcare costs for treating gout have been estimated at approximately anywhere from $332-$663/year, depending on severity and patient age.(
What is gout?
Gout is a form of arthritis and is caused by an excess of uric acid in the blood. The uric acid deposits in the joints, and this inflammation is painful. The pain usually starts in the toe and goes up the leg. Oftentimes, people cannot wear their shoes or walk normally.
What is a gout attack?
A gout attack is sudden pain, often with fever, chills, and fatigue. An attack can last several days. Stress, alcohol, drugs, crash diets, or another illness can cause an attack. Another attack may not occur for a long time and often seems to occur at random.
What causes gout?
The exact cause is unknown, however it may possibly be genetic. Purines, naturally found in animal meats and other proteins has been linked to increased uric acid in the body, therefore increasing the risk of developing gout.
Other risk factors include
· Heavy alcohol use (especially beer)
· High blood pressure
· Sickle-cell anemia
· Kidney disease
· Certain medicines (may also increase risk)
Can diet exacerbate gout?
A diet high in meat and saturated fats, alcohol intake, obesity, and some medications are all associated with gout. As stated above, obesity or even significant weight gain has been linked to gout and weight loss lowers your risk.
What should I avoid?
If you are at increased risk, your diet may require some adjustments to lower uric acid levels in your body. To help manage your gout:
· Drink plenty of nonalcoholic fluids during or between attacks (this is important)
· Limit your alcohol intake
· Limit the following foods:
− Organ meats (brain, kidney, and heart)
− Shellfish, such as scallops and mussels
− Fish eggs
− Meats, poultry, and fish (you can have 4−6 ounces/day)
− Dried beans
− Dried peas
If you have gout and need a diet to alleviate your symptoms, a registered dietitian is the most qualified professional to develop a plan specifically for you. sls