What is gout?

Gout, also known as metabolic arthritis or gouty arthiritis, is a disease that causes painful swelling, stiffness and inflamation of the joints. The inflamation is caused by an excess of uric acid in the blood, which crystallizes and settles in the joints. It most commonly occurs in the feet starting with the big toe, but can also effect the instep, ankles, and knees as well as the hands, wrists and elbows.
It is one of the oldest and most painful diseases known to mankind, long associated with excessive eating and drinking. Fortunately it is treatable, and positive steps can be taken to prevent attacks from recurring.

Who is at risk of suffering from gout?

  • Both men and women can get gout, starting any time after puberty until old age
  • Men are far more likely to suffer from gout than women
  • It occurs more often in the middle aged and elderly
  • Overweight people and those who drink a lot of alcohol are most at risk
  • The number of cases has been increasing, particularly among men in their 40s and 50s, and post-menapausal women

What are the symptoms?

  • Sudden pain, and burning sensation, with swelling and stiffness in one or more joints
  • Moving the affected joint is excruciating
  • Around 75% of first attacks occur in the big toe
  • The skin around the affected joint often turns red or purple
  • A low fever is common during attacks

How long do gout attacks last?

  • Attacks typically last from 2 to 3 hours
  • They can last up to a week or more in chronic cases
  • Generally, attacks become gradually worse unless the gout is treated
  • Attacks occur more frequently in the spring season

What should I do if I have gout symptoms?

  • See your doctor as soon as possible
  • Avoid taking aspirin to relieve the pain as it can worsen the condition
  • Applying ice packs to the affected area can provide some temporary relief

Is gout curable?

  • Yes, by lowering the level of uric acid in the body recurrences can be prevented
  • Proper diagnosis by a qualified physician is essential

What can I do to relieve gout and prevent recurrences?

  • Lose weight
  • Natural treatments containing containing herbs can be effective
  • celery extracts taken as supplements or in tea can help

What sort of diet is good for preventing gout attacks?

  • Cheese and other dairy products have been found to reduce the risk of gout
  • Drink plenty of liquids, especially water
  • Cherries and cherry juice have been shown to be beneficial in reducing uric acid levels. More on gout and cherries at http://www.goutcherries.com
  • A diet high in vegetables can help
  • Regular physical activity is beneficial (but should be avoided during an attack)

What foods should be avoided to prevent and relieve gout?

  • Alcohol, Beer is high in uric acid, and should be avoided
  • Avoid eating large amounts of high-protein food such as red meat, seafood, and poultry
  • Coffee, tea, and other drinks containing caffeine
  • Avoid chocolate
More information on gouty arthritis can be found on these websites: