Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my favorite Aunt and Uncle. My Uncle loved his beer but was nowhere near being an alcoholic. I remember him having to fight with bouts of gout and my Aunt used to say, “Uncle Mike’s gout is due to the beer he is drinking”. As I got older and went into nurses training in the mid 1960’s I noticed that the medical profession referred to gout as being mainly a side effect of drinking too much alcohol, and people were labeled as an alcoholic. As knowledge progressed within the medical profession, researchers noted other side effects of gout and dispelled this myth.
How Is Gout Diagnosed and What Are the Treatment Options?
Urine specimens and blood draws will determine if a person has true gout. If the uric acid level is high then this seals the gout diagnosis. Treatment is fairly easy if the patient does as the doctor recommends. The following website shows great gout educational content for those with this illness and who strives to improve their condition.
As with my uncle and the many patients I have care for over the years, they were educated to avoid all forms of alcohol and to drink plenty of water, at least 64-ounces per day to help flush the kidneys of crystals and built-up uric acid levels. Daily exercise during and after gout flare-ups, in addition to medication are important factors to speed recovery and is entirely up to the doctor to decide if medication is to be long-term or short-term.
Some of these medications include but are not limited to NSAIDS such as ibuprofen or naproxen, colchicine, or steroids if the person does not respond to a treatment of NSAIDS. Medications to help decrease uric acid called uricosuric agents; the doctor may prescribe xanthine oxidase inhibitors and colchicine. Rest for the affected extremity is also necessary to speed healing.
What Are the Biggest Struggles With Gout?
- The necessity to rest the inflamed joint or extremity. It was difficult for me as a nurse to keep busy people still and not use the affected joint.
- To drink 64-fluid ounces of water per day. This is necessary not only during gout attacks but for life unless the doctor advises against it.
- To believe that the occasional alcoholic drink will make a difference to them.
Simply put, gout is the swelling of joints and considered a form of arthritis just as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Gout attacks men more than women, and is an inflammation of the joints where pain, swelling, redness and the tissue becomes warm to the touch. When gout attacks the toes and ankles and makes the feet swell, the person cannot bear weight on that foot or can bear little weight and may have to use a walker or cane until the pain and swelling disappear.
Helpful Tips to Preventing Gout
Drinking no alcohol, drinking plenty of water, at least 64-fluid ounces per day, exercising on a regular basis and maintaining a normal ideal body weight are steps that help to avoid high uric acid levels in the blood.
A gout diagnosis has never touched me personally, however this illness has touched a beloved family member of mine and I have cared for many patients throughout my 43-years of nursing who suffered from gout. One component of human urine is uric acid. When the uric acid level in someone’s urine becomes too high this acid can form painful side effects. This rise in uric acid is known as hyperuricemia is addressed by the doctor at once, because one the illnesses that strikes first is gout and gout flare-ups.
A higher than normal uric acid level above 6mg, in the urine and blood tends to cause crystals to form in the urine. These crystals cause inflammation in the joints in addition to pain and swelling. This crystals can also cause kidney stones.
In my uncle’s case, he only had a few beers on the weekends while listening to the baseball games. Sometimes there is no reason for gout attacks and the attacks just happen. Doctors are not sure what makes these levels raise. Someone who does not drink at all can have problems with gout and gout flare-ups.
Medical researchers have found in their study of gout that there can be other reasons causing gout, such as some medications, stress, another underlying illness (my uncle was also a diabetic), and alcohol. Researchers have concluded that sometimes a joint injury, a crash diet, an infection and or certain surgeries tend to increase uric acid levels. Sometimes a person’s body just normally develops too much uric acid.
Years ago it was thought that alcohol and a rich diet eaten daily were the factors causing gout. Researchers now find that diets do not necessarily play a part in this illness. Additionally, if a patient eats a strict low-purine, diet it makes little or no difference in the ability to lower the uric acid levels in the blood. Many times the kidneys build up the higher levels of uric acid because they cannot excrete the acid sufficiently.