It was once known as the Disease of Kings, due to its association with a decadent diet of meat and wine, but the truth is that gout is now affecting more people than ever, and most worryingly, people are starting to suffer from it at a younger age. So where does the myth stop, and scientific fact start? Are we living worse now than we ever have before, or is there something else going on?

What is Gout?

Gout disease explained

Gout is a form of arthritis, which predominantly affects the joints of the feet, legs and hands. It is caused by a build up of uric acid in the blood stream, which then culminates in the joints and forms tiny, needle-like crystals.

These tiny spiky projections aggravate the joint, and the resulting inflammation causes hot, painful swellings, which make movement, or even the pressure of clothing, an agonizing ordeal.

Uric Acid:

So where does the uric acid come from in the first place? Well, it isn’t something that the body produces itself; in fact, it isn’t a compound that is useful to the body in any way- rather, it is considered a toxin, and usually flushed from the body in the form of urine.

However, it exists in our body as a result of the breakdown of proteins, and our levels of it can be increased by a variety of factors: in the case of some gout sufferers, a high level of uric acid is the result of lifestyle choices; a poor diet of excess meat, alcohol and seafood, combined with an inability to excrete all the uric acid effectively. However, in some cases the condition can be caused by genetic factors that affect kidney function.

How Can You Avoid Gout?

In the case of gout caused by lifestyle, there is a lot you can do to prevent ever getting the illness, and to lessen the symptoms if you are unfortunate enough to develop it:

  1. Drink Less Beer!
    Many doctors believe that gout is on the rise because of a drinking culture that prevails throughout the Western world, since alcohol inhibits the body’s natural ability to dispose of uric acid. It certainly could be argued that we drink more than we should, but the truth is that the age-old belief that rich wines cause gout is largely unfounded: studies show that moderate spirit and wine drinkers are at no greater risk of gout than non-drinkers. It is beer drinkers that need to watch their consumption, as the risk for them of developing gout is 2.5 times higher than for non-drinkers.
  1. Exercise More!
    Exercising can help prevent gout in a number of ways. Firstly it keeps metabolism ticking over nicely, so that food moves through your system nicely and is excreted efficiently. Also, it lowers your chances of being obese, which is intrinsically linked with gout.
  1. Eat Potassium Rich Foods!
    These include spinach, bananas, potatoes, carrots and kidney beans. Potassium is great at regulating the amount of urate in the bloodstream, which results in uric acid.
  1. Take Vitamin C!
    As well as boosting your immune system, vitamin C can reduce uric acid levels in the bloodstream through the production of calcium carbonate: A great way of battling gout!
  1. Eat A Balanced Diet!
    Not too much meat, not too much seafood, not too much booze: not only will you reduce the amount of uric acid in your system, but you’ll stay trim- a double blow to gout!

What the Papers Say:

BBC News: (Click article for full size)

Nursing Times: (Click article for full size)

Mail Online: (Click article for full size)

What People On The Web Say:

I Feel Like My Gout Is Spreading!

I have attacks of gouty arthritis in my left ankle, right leg and right wrist. I have noticed with each attack the area affected is spreading. Where it used to only affect my right ankle it now affects my whole right leg. On the onset of an attack the affected area feels sore, if I take my colchicine right away I can usually stop it from becoming a full attack. Also I learned from my doctor that I need to take my allopurinol as directed when I am not having a attack because a high uric acid level can damage your kidneys. I also learned that dye contrast could initiate an attack.

Male Reader  
Get Help Right Away!

I have had my first attack. It’s been about nine days and finally went to the doctor yesterday (I’m stubborn I guess). I have NEVER had such agonizing pain! I have had knee surgery and nothing compares to this. The doctor prescribed medication, which makes me a little woozy, but is helping… If you think you might be having a gout attack, GET HELP RIGHT AWAY!! Nothing is worth this pain!

Male Reader  
I’m Grateful for The Advice On The Internet!

I’m in the middle of my first gout attack. It is going on 3 days now and the pain is slowly getting better. Pain started while sleeping at night, was somewhat better the next day, then excruciating pain since then. It showed up in the foot just below the big toe with swelling and redness. I wasn’t sure what it was until I saw the doctor today. It didn’t take her long to diagnose. I am waiting on a blood test to measure the level of uric acid to determine the next step. I feel for the patients with gout in multiple areas. This is extremely painful just in the big toe. I am grateful for the wealth of information on the Internet.

Male Reader  
It’s A Painful Inconvenience!

My first attack came about 2 years ago with acute swelling and agonizing pain in the little toe of my left foot. I realized it was gout and it took about 3 weeks to subside. Last year I began developing swelling in both my hands – especially my right index finger and middle right finger. On the index finger there are little pin points of white which looks like an infection but is not. Now ‘officially’ diagnosed (my doctor originally just said it was arthritis – wear and tear) by my consultant hematologist (I am in remission from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma) I have been prescribed 300mg allupriniol daily and am waiting to see if anything improves. In its chronic state, it is painful and makes it hard to flex my fingers but it is not the agonizing pain of an acute attack. It does hurt and is an inconvenience though.

Female Reader  
At First I Thought I’d Twisted My Ankle!

My pain started about six years ago. I thought I had twisted my ankle or something. This occurs about one a year. It wasn’t until last year that my doctor finally diagnosed me with gout. The flare usually only lasts about a day or so, and it only affect the top of my right foot, so far. The last episode has been going on for eight days and counting. I was never prescribed any medication from my doctor, but I am starting to think it’s time now.

Male Reader 

Michael Donelly

About Michael Donelly

Michael Donelly is Gnet's founder and occasionally posts information. If you'd like to get in touch about anything business related you can contact him on Twitter: @MichaelDonelly2. And if you like what you read here then why not sign up for our newsletter to get regular updates on your interests?