Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis that causes pain and swelling in the joint areas. The most affected areas due to it could be the toes, ankles, and knees. Gout normally results due to an increase in the level of uric acid in and around the joints. This condition is more prone to occur in men than in women. The early symptoms comprise the swelling and mild pain in the toes, and it gradually affects the knee and ankles. In some cases, repeated bouts of gout can result in gouty arthritis also. The disease as such doesn’t have a specific cure but can be managed and mitigated with systematic medications and diet changes.
Causes of Gout:
Gout occurs when the level of uric acid inside the body increases and it gets deposited in the joint areas in the form of crystals. Usually, such conditions occur as a result of increased production of uric acid inside the body or due to uric acid not getting filtered out by the kidneys. The increase in uric acid could also be because of some dietary habits and persistent medication for some diseases. The causes can be summarized in:
(i) Too often on a diet comprising of red meat, purine-rich food such as organ meat, fishes like sardines, mussels, tuna, etc.
(ii) If you are Alcoholic
(iii) Craving for sugar and sugar-based products
(iv) You are obese
(v) A family history of gout
(vi) Other medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, renal insufficiency, hypothyroidism
Symptoms of Gout:
A person suffering from gout may be under remission i.e. a phase wherein the symptoms don’t surface. The first symptom or flare-up may originate after a long remission period. Once the symptoms start surfacing, you may experience
(i) Pain and swelling on one of the big toes or both of the toes
(ii) The swelling on other joints such as ankles and knee
(iii) A feeling of inflammation on the affected joints with a reddish appearance
Treatment and Home Remedies for Gout:
The inflammation or swelling of joints as such cannot be completely cured. But, as discussed above, it can be alleviated to a manageable condition or almost complete relief by systematic medication or modifying your lifestyle habits. Here are some best practices one can inculcate in their day-to-day life to regulate the medical condition:
(i) Have plenty of Drinking Water: If we can increase the consumption of drinking water, it helps the kidneys in flushing out unwanted minerals from the body along with the urine. It can also help in reducing the inflammations of the affected joints.
(ii) Avoid Alcohol: Alcohol consumption can affect your digestive system, thereby increasing the chances of inflammation. So, avoid alcohol. Try avoiding aerated drinks also.
(iii) Avoid Food Items Rich in Purine: The level of uric acid can drastically increase if a person is depending on a diet high in purine content. Some of the food items to be kept aside while you have the gout-like condition are organ meat, bacon meat, turkey, and fishes like sardine, mussels, tuna, etc. Some of the alcoholic drinks, such as beer, are also found to be high on purine content. So, avoid them to obtain relief in gout.
(iv) Don’t Forget to Exercise: We are not talking about doing weights and regular cardio. A simple walk around your locality in the morning and evening can help increase the blood flow through the joints and reduce the swelling.
(v) Try Cherries: Cherries are found to be rich in anthocyanins, an anti-inflammatory compound. Having cherries can help in reducing the inflammation flares to a certain extent.
(vi) Include Ginger, Coriander, and Turmeric in Diet: Ginger, coriander, and turmeric are the common ingredients that we use while preparing food at home. Ginger and coriander are found to have good anti-inflammatory properties and coriander have excellent antioxidant properties that can help in reducing the uric acid levels in the body. So, add these spices to your food.
(vii) Reduce Sugar: Fructose in sugar can flare-up the inflammation of affected joints. Try avoiding food items that are high in sugar content or sugar-based items, such as pastries, cakes, etc.
(viii) Dark leafy vegetables are good in potassium content and help in keeping blood sugar levels in check. They can help in reducing the inflammation of joints if they are well-supplemented in the diet.
(ix) Try applying cold packs: Local application of ice packs can give relief from the swelling and inflammation of the joints. The use of hot packs or immersing of ankle or foot toe in lukewarm water is also recommended for relief in the pain in some cases.
(x) Try avoiding Long Duration Travel. During long travel hours, our body may get confined to a common posture for longer periods. This can affect the blood circulation to the affected joints, thereby resulting in a flare-up of ankle and knee discomfort.
We may have to accept the fact that gout and related physical discomfort cannot be eliminated. However, we can make ourselves feel a lot better by incorporating a few diet modifications and self-remedies in our daily life as suggested above.