Here is a scenario: you dress up and join friends for a holiday party, and of course you can’t resist the liver pate, shrimp cocktail, or spinach dip, and to top it off you have a drink or two and a fancy dessert with a rich cream filling. Hours later, you are woken by a severe pain in your big toe—so bad that you can hardly stand the weight of your blankets on it. What you have is likely a gout attack.
Gout is a form of arthritis caused by excess levels of uric acid in the bloodstream, which then crystalizes. The tiny sharp crystals settle in the joint, and it feels like someone is poking sharp needles into your toe. The toe can also become red and swollen, and the slightest touch can be excruciating.
Foods that trigger a gout attack are those high in purines. Most sources of protein have purines, but organ meats (the liver pate) and seafood (shrimp cocktail) are especially problematic. Dairy products, certain vegetables (spinach, for example) and alcohol also contain them, along with sugary drinks that contain high fructose corn syrup.
To avoid a gout flare up, know which foods you should limit or not eat at all. The list of foods to avoid or eat in moderation include beef, pork, and poultry, alcohol (especially beer), and most soft drinks. Other triggers can include stress from illness, injury, or surgery, certain medications, and dehydration—which makes it harder for your kidneys to get rid of excess uric acid. If you have any of these other problems, be double careful what you eat so you can avoid an attack.
Being overweight can also contribute to the problem, so it pays to eat healthy food and keep your weight under control. Exercise can help to maintain your weight and relieve stress. Just make sure that you drink enough water while you are doing your workout.
If you need more information about this disease or medications that may help prevent an attack, contact Yuko Miyazaki, DPM in Berkeley, CA. You can call our office on Colby Street at (510) 647-3744 or contact us online to set up an appointment. We look forward to working with you to control your painful symptoms and prevent future attacks of gout.