Gout Triggers and How to Avoid Them
I can remember being in high school when my father was diagnosed with gout. As a very active man who downhill skis, cross-country skis, and golfs, watching him hobble around the house without knowing what he had done to himself was disconcerting.
After missing work for a few days, he came home from the doctor with several prescriptions and a fistful of patient education handouts. “Gout,” he said. He was a bit miffed.
A distant relative had gout but there had been no warning signs — just a swollen big toe one morning that was more painful than anything that he had ever experienced.
It has been almost 20 years since that day, and while he has had exacerbations, his gout has largely been under control through the use of prescription medication and dietary modifications. Through trial and error he has discovered that certain foods and beverages trigger his gout, whereas other well-known gout triggers will have no effect.
Gout is actually a form of arthritis. It comes on suddenly due to a buildup of uric acid in a joint, most commonly in the big toes or a joint in the lower body, although it can occur in any joint.
Uric acid is a normal byproduct of the breakdown of purines, which are found naturally in our bodies and in certain foods. The uric acid should then be transported to the kidneys and excreted in the urine. However, people with gout have an overproduction of uric acid or their bodies do not metabolize it properly, causing the development of gout.
Triggers for gout can be medical, dietary or lifestyle-related.
Medical- or lifestyle-related triggers include:
- Injury to the joints
- Illness or infection
- Diuretic medications that treat edema and/or heart failure
- Taking the drug Cyclosporine
- Crash diets
- Consuming too much alcohol
- Diets rich in purines
- Consuming too much sweet soda
There may be little that we can do to prevent gout if we are predisposed due to medical triggers. However, we can certainly prevent it if we know we are predisposed, such as having a family history, by avoiding dietary triggers. If you already have gout, avoiding dietary triggers and lifestyle-related triggers is helpful as well.
Let's take a closer look at some of these triggers of gout.
Gout can be triggered by a wide range of things, and one of the main causes of gout can be joint injury. It is important to take good care of your joint by not overworking yourself or your joints.
Be sure to take breaks when you feel fatigued or feel pain in your joint. These rest breaks and appropriate care could stop an injury from happening, which could then hopefully stop gout attacks.
Another common trigger of gout is taking certain diuretic medications, which are used for high blood pressure, heart failure, or swelling of the leg.
Medications, such as hydrochlorothiazide and furosemide, can cause gout attacks in your body. If you find that you have had a gout attack while on these medications, it is recommended that you speak to your doctor about your course of treatment and how it is not working for you.
Chemotherapy, alcohol, and other gout triggers to avoid.