Gout is a medical term that you might hear referenced quite a bit – but what is it, exactly? Gout is a type of arthritis that is caused by an accumulation of uric acid crystals in the bloodstream, which then affects the joints, such as those in the foot in addition to other areas and joints in the body including the ankles, knees, hands, wrists, fingers and elbows.
In this article, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family physician in Vancouver, explains what gout is, what causes it, and what preventative measures you can take against it.
Gout can be caused by a number of different factors. A diet that is rich in purines, for example, can play a significant role in the contribution of gout. Foods that are rich in purines include red meats or organ meats, legumes and shellfish, as well as alcohol. Being overweight or obese can also contribute to gout due to extra stress being placed on the joints as a result, thus making them more susceptible to gout. Individuals with diabetes are also at an increased risk of developing gout as diabetes can cause poor circulation. Certain medications, such as aspirin, as well as having high blood pressure can also contribute to gout.
If you have gout, there are certain things you can do to prevent it from occurring. As with many health conditions, it’s important to know your triggers. If food is the suspected cause of your gout, try to avoid those purine-rich foods as mentioned previously. Instead, include more low-fat dairy products in your diet in addition to fruits and vegetables. By eating a healthy diet, you not only alleviate gout and reduce your risk of developing gout in the future, but you also reduce the risk of many other health problems. For more in-depth information on healthy eating, follow Dr. Ali Ghahary on Twitter and Instagram. You can also find plenty of tips on healthy eating, including low-carb diets, by visiting Dr. Ali Ghahary’s blog on Wordpress. In additional to eating healthy, reducing your weight can also reduce your risk of gout. When it comes to weight loss, healthy eating and physical activity go hand in hand. However, it’s important to not go on a crash diet as these can actually be dangerous and cause your uric acid levels to spike. While we’re on the subject of diet, you should also make sure you’re reducing your sodium intake to alleviate or reduce the risk of high blood pressure – as having high blood pressure has also been linked to gout. If you suspect a medication may be causing gout, do not stop taking the medication without first speaking to your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on the medication, quitting it “cold turkey” could be dangerous to your health, so let your doctor or pharmacist make that decision for you. It may simply be a matter of changing your dose or prescribing you a new medication all-together.