Medications & Necessary Lifestyle Adjustments for Gout

Monday 8 March 2021
Gout

Table of Contents


I. Lowering Uric Acid Levels

II. Dietary Adjustments

III. Maintaining a Healthy Weight

IV. Talking to Your Doctor


Gout is caused by a buildup of uric acid and is characterized by pain in the joints. Gout attacks occur when the pain suddenly becomes intense. If left untreated, gout can become chronic and permanently damage the joints. [1] Common medications available to treat symptoms of gout include colchicineZyloprim (allopurinol)indomethacin, and indomethacin suppositories. For those with gout, a good treatment plan will combine medication with lifestyle adjustments for maximum effectiveness. Read on to discover how lifestyle adjustments can help.

Lowering Uric Acid Levels

Gout medications aim to reduce joint inflammation, but lifestyle adjustments can go one step further and lower uric acid levels. High uric acid levels may be an inherited disorder, or it can result from a kidney or thyroid problem. Being overweight or eating an unhealthy diet may also increase your risk of high uric acid levels. [2] Things that can lower uric acid levels include:

  • Starting a gout-friendly diet
  • Avoiding foods that cause uric acid buildup
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

an obese woman sitting on a couch

These adjustments may not prevent gout altogether, but they may lower uric acid levels enough to reduce the frequency of gout attacks. Historically, it’s been proven that only focusing on one factor isn’t enough to be helpful. For example, avoiding foods that cause uric acid buildup may help a little, but a healthy diet and a healthy weight are also necessary for the treatment of symptoms. [3]

Dietary Adjustments

High-purine foods like organ meats, alcohol, seafood, and sweetened beverages can elevate uric acid levels. To start a gout-friendly diet, you will have to adjust the ratio between the plant-based foods you eat and the high purine foods you consume. Doctors used to hand their patients a list of foods to avoid, but experience has shown that improving overall health is more beneficial than avoiding specific foods bad for gout. While you may want to consume less high-purine foods, it is more important to eat more vegetables, fruits, and legumes. Gout-friendly foods include:

  • Chicken
  • Citrus fruits
  • Flaky white fish such as cod, tilapia, and flounder
  • Turkey
  • Whole grains

an assortment of citrus fruits

Chicken and turkey are recommended because they are good alternative sources of protein. Although seafood may be high in purine, flaky white fish are lower in purine than shellfish, sardines, and anchovies, so they are a great choice for increasing your omega-3 fatty acids intake. Choosing whole grains over processed grains can also help increase fiber intake. The right diet can make it easier to maintain a healthy weight, which will help manage uric acid levels. [3]

Maintaining a Healthy Weight

As mentioned above, being overweight can increase the risk of gout attacks. Diet alone may not be enough to maintain a healthy weight and a regular exercise routine may be necessary. [2] The right amount of physical activity will depend on the individual. Generally, 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity is ideal. If you prefer high-intensity exercises, 75 minutes a week is enough to help maintain your weight over time. Activities that are moderate in intensity include:

  • Biking at a relaxing pace
  • Light snow shoveling
  • Light yard work
  • Playing with children
  • Walking briskly

Moderate-intensity exercises should slightly increase your heart rate and breathing, but you should still be able to carry on a conversation. On the other hand, vigorous-intensity activities will have you out of breath. These activities include:

  • Competitive sports
  • Jogging
  • Jumping rope
  • Running
  • Skiing
  • Swimming laps [4]

two men playing soccer

Talking to Your Doctor

It is important to have clear goals in mind that dictate each change so that everything is done with purpose. Knowing why you are making certain adjustments can make the process of changing old habits easier. For example, understanding that sweetened beverages can increase the risk of gout attacks may help you drink them less, rather than abstaining through sheer willpower.

If lifestyle adjustments do not sufficiently control gout symptoms, talk to your doctor about available medications. ColchicineZyloprim (allopurinol)indomethacin, and indomethacin suppositories are effective and often prescribed to gout patients to treat inflammation and joint pain. Lifestyle adjustments may take time to make, but the long-term results can be worth it.

The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.