Gout is a painful and potentially disabling form of arthritis. The first symptoms usually are intense episodes of painful swelling in single joints, most often in the feet, especially the big toe. The swollen site may be red and warm.
Gout occurs when excess uric acid collects in the body, and needle‐like urate crystals deposit in the joints. Uric acid is a substance that results from the breakdown of purines, which are part of all human tissue and are found in many foods. This may happen because either uric acid production increases or, more often, the kidneys cannot remove uric acid from the body well enough.
Over time, increased uric acid levels in the blood may lead to deposits of urate crystals in and around the joints. These crystals can attract white blood cells, leading to severe, painful gout attacks and chronic arthritis. Uric acid also can deposit in the urinary tract, causing kidney stones.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
People with most forms of arthritis have pain and stiffness in their joints. Gout typically attacks one joint at a time, and the attacks usually begin at night.
Hyperuricemia, high levels of uric acid in the body contributes to arthritis that develops in one day, producing a swollen, red, and painful joint.
Gout normally attacks joints in the lower part of the body, such as the knee, ankle or big toe. For many people the joints in the big toe are the first to be attacked. In fact, sometime during the course of the disease, many people will develop gout in the big toe.
To prevent future attacks, your doctor can prescribe a medicine to reduce uric acid buildup in your blood. Paying attention to what you eat may help you manage your gout. Eat moderate amounts of a healthy mix of foods to control your weight and get the nutrients you need.
- Avoid meats such as liver, kidney and sweetbreads, which have high purine levels and contribute to high blood levels of uric acid.
- Avoid the following types of seafood, which are higher in purines than others: anchovies, herring, sardines, mussels, scallops, trout, haddock, mackerel and tuna.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Drink plenty of water and other fluids.
Gout Friendly Foods (Low Purine Content)
Gout sufferers are advised to avoid high-purine foods. As purine is found in almost all animal and plant protein foods, here are some foods to eat in order to keep uric acid levels in check.
- Nuts and seeds
- Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt)
- Cold-water fish
People with gout should avoid proteins with very high purine concentrations such as organs, seafood and shellfish, and meats like venison, sausages and bacon, they can still eat proteins with lower purine content moderately.