Gout is a rheumatic condition much like arthritis that affects joints and surrounding tissues, primarily in the large toe or feet. It is a result of too much uric acid building in the bloodstream, and it may cause inflammation, swelling and pain. If your physician has referred you to a rheumatologist for treating your gout, you may be prescribed medications as well as be given a dietary plan to adhere to. Lifestyle changes, such as weight loss and restriction of alcohol, may also be part of the recommended course of action.
If you notice swelling, redness and tenderness in or around the joint of your big toe or other joints, see your physician for a diagnosis. Fluid drawn from the affected joints as well as blood tests may reveal elevated levels of uric acid. Whether you are experiencing your first acute attack of gout or you are struggling with recurring flareups, this condition is manageable. Seek a treatment plan from your rheumatologist as soon as possible, as left untreated, gout can destroy joints, tendons and tissues.
Here are some of the more common treatment options for controlling gout:
1. Dietary Changes
Many meats, poultry and seafood contain purines, a chemical that must be broken down by uric acid. These acids form into crystals, causing painful symptoms of gout in some individuals. If you consume large amounts of meat, poultry and seafood, your body may produce an excessive amount of uric acid to neutralize the purines found in these foods. A simple solution is to limit your intake of red meat and seafood to approximately 4-6 ounces per day. To receive adequate protein from other sources not associated with high levels of purines, choose dairy foods.
Your rheumatologist may also recommend tart cherry juice as a dietary supplement. Cherry extract as well as fresh cherries contain natural anti-inflammatory compounds that may help reduce the risk of gout flareups, if consumed regularly. Ask your doctor for a dosage recommendation that is right for you.
Other dietary considerations should be increasing your water intake to flush your system of excess uric acid. In addition, you may be told to reduce your intake of alcohol, especially beer, which may increase levels of uric acid in the blood. Limiting your coffee consumption may also be recommended for much of the same reasons.
2. Prescription Medications
For some individuals, diet alone is not enough to control symptoms of gout. For treating an acute attack of gout, your rheumatologist may prescribe short-term medication treatment. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, commonly referred to as NSAIDS, will typically be used to treat acute gout flareups. These drugs have a tendency to cause stomach upset in some individuals, so they may not be the right choice if you suffer from gastrointestinal issues.
Corticosteroids are an alternate medication that may be prescribed. Another choice for reducing the production of uric acid would be xanthine oxidase inhibitors. Pegloticase may be prescribed if you've experienced recurring gout that hasn't responded to other treatments. As with most medications, side effects are a possibility, so discuss your concerns with your physician.
3. Weight Loss
Studies show that losing excess weight may reduce the risk of gout. If you are overweight, speak to your doctor or rheumatologist about a weight loss plan suitable for you. This is especially important if you have pre-existing medical conditions that require specific care or treatment.. Along with your caloric intake, your doctor may suggest routine exercise to control your weight.
With proper rheumatology treatment and care, you can manage your symptoms and prevent future flareups of gout. Speak to a specialist at a clinic like Arthritis & Rheumatology Associates of South Jersey and learn how you can take control.