Gout: how to prevent, manage and treat it

Gout is a type of arthritis that predominantly affects the big toes, though it can also affect other joints, such as your hands, wrists or feet. Men are more likely than women to get it and it’s most common in people over the age of 75.

What are the symptoms of gout?

Gout is characterised by sudden flare-ups that cause pain, tenderness and swelling in the affected joint. The symptoms can come and go and often happen at night.

A flare-up causes sudden and intense pain that can last for 2-12 hours. You may feel discomfort in your affected joint for a few days or weeks afterwards. Some people will experience one episode of gout and then go for years without another one, whereas others will experience it on a regular basis. If you do get it regularly, flare-ups can sometimes last longer and affect other joints too.

What causes gout?

Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis and happens when there’s too much uric acid in your blood. Uric acid is a chemical produced by your body that usually gets flushed out when you urinate. Too much uric acid in your blood causes crystals to form in your joints, which results in inflammation, pain and tenderness. If these crystals become loose, symptoms can flare up.

Treating a gout flare-up

If you get a gout flare-up, take an anti-inflammatory painkiller such as ibuprofen to help reduce the swelling and inflammation. Rest the affected joint, raise it and place an ice pack wrapped in a towel on the area for 20 minutes at a time to help reduce the swelling.

If you’ve been prescribed medication for gout you should take it as soon as you can as it can take a few days to have an effect.

How to prevent gout

Certain lifestyle factors increase your chances of developing gout. If you’re concerned about developing it, or you’ve had it and want to avoid having it again, follow these tips:

Change your diet

The amount of uric acid in your body can be affected by the food and drink you consume. Purine is a chemical found in certain foods that your body converts into uric acid. Try to avoid food and drink that contains a lot of purine, such as:

  • Alcohol, particularly beer
  • Meat, particularly game and organ meats
  • Seafood, such as fish and shellfish — some fish, such as anchovies and tuna, have particularly high levels of purine

A healthy diet, in general, will also help reduce your chances of developing gout. Make sure your diet includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and fibre, and is low in saturated fats.

Drink plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks

Studies show that drinking sugary drinks increase your chances of developing gout. So, swap sweet drinks for water or other sugar-free drinks. 

It’s also important to stay hydrated to help flush out uric acid from your body. Adults should drink between six to eight glasses of fluids a day — this can include water, low-fat milk, tea or coffee.

Medications

If you’ve had several flare-ups of gout, you can get medication to help prevent it from coming back. The medication will either reduce the amount of uric acid that your body produces or increase the amount that gets flushed out when you urinate.

Stay active

Being overweight can increase your chances of developing gout, so it’s important to take regular exercise and manage your weight. Studies show that people who exercise regularly are less likely to develop gout.

 

Author Information

Cahoot Care Marketing

Niched in the care sector, Cahoot Care Marketing offers a full range of marketing services for care businesses including: SEO, social media, websites and video marketing, specialising in copywriting and content marketing.

Over the last five years Cahoot Care Marketing has built an experienced team of writers and editors, with broad and deep expertise on a range of care topics. They provide a responsive, efficient and comprehensive service, ensuring content is on brand and in line with relevant medical guidelines.

Their writers and editors include care sector workers, healthcare copywriting specialists and NHS trainers, who thoroughly research all topics using reputable sources including the NHS, NICE, relevant Royal Colleges and medical associations.


The Spire Content Hub project was managed by:

Lux Fatimathas, Editor and Project Manager

Lux has a BSc(Hons) in Neuroscience from UCL, a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and experience as a postdoctoral researcher in developmental biology. She has a clear and extensive understanding of the biological and medical sciences.Having worked in scientific publishing for BioMed Central and as a writer for the UK’s Medical Research Council and the National University of Singapore, she is able to clearly communicate complex concepts.

Alfie Jones, Director — Cahoot Care Marketing

Alfie has a creative writing degree from UCF and initially worked as a carer before supporting his family’s care training business with copywriting and general marketing.He has worked in content marketing and the care sector for over 10 years and overseen a diverse range of care content projects, building a strong team of specialist writers and marketing creatives after founding Cahoot in 2016.