Everything Seniors Need to Know about Treating Gout

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In recent years, gout has become increasingly prevalent among Americans. It currently affects 3.9 percent of people throughout the country, many of them senior citizens.

Of that 3.9 percent, a whopping 90 percent struggle with poor gout management and frequent gout flare-ups.

If you’re part of this group or know someone who is, keep reading to learn everything you or your loved ones need to know about treating gout and preventing gout attacks.

What is Gout?

Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs when too much uric acid is present in the blood. This acid builds up and forms crystals in the joints. Most people experience gout in the joint of their big toe, but it can affect any joint, including the joints in the knee, ankle, hand, foot, elbow, or wrist.

Symptoms of Gout

Common symptoms of gout include:

  • Severe and sudden joint pain that often occurs in the early morning or middle of the night

  • Joint tenderness

  • Joints that are red or purple in color or warm to the touch

  • Joint stiffness

When it goes untreated for too long, the crystals formed by uric acid in the bloodstream can form lumps under the skin surrounding the affected joint. These lumps are called tophi. Crystals can also accumulate in the urinary tract and form kidney stones.

Gout attacks typically last between three and ten days, with the first few days typically being the most painful.

Who is at Risk of Developing Gout?

As with most diseases, some people are more likely than others to experience gout in their lifetime. Some of the most well-known risk factors for gout are those that increase levels of uric acid in the body. These include:

  • Eating a diet heavy in meat, seafood, fructose, and alcohol (especially beer)

  • Being overweight or obese

  • Medical conditions like metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and kidney disease

  • Use of medications like low-dose aspirin, anti-rejection drugs, and thiazide diuretics (which are often used to treat high blood pressure)

  • Having a family history of gout

  • Age and sex — men between the ages of 30 and 50 and post-menopausal women are most likely to struggle with gout

  • Having undergone a recent surgery or experienced trauma

Treating Gout

While gout is not particularly pleasant to deal with, it’s important to note that you can still experience a high-quality of life by taking appropriate steps to treat it. Some tips for treating gout that anyone can implement are listed below:

  • Take NSAID medications early on during an attack to reduce its duration and severity — avoid using aspirin for a painkiller, as it can increase uric acid levels

  • Take colchicine — this is a medication that blocks uric acid production. It should be taken early on during an attack for best results

  • Use corticosteroids — corticosteroids like prednisone can minimize pain and inflammation. You can also have corticosteroid injections in the joint.

  • Drink plenty of water while taking these medications to promote healthy circulation and speed up the healing process

  • Rest and elevate affected joints

  • Ice the affected joint to naturally reduce inflammation and pain

You may also want to consider using complementary and alternative therapies like herbal supplements, acupuncture, and massage. Just keep in mind that these therapies haven’t been proven to be particularly effective. One study showed that those who used them suffered from just as many flares as those who didn’t.

Preventing Gout Attacks

It’s generally easier to prevent gout attacks than it is to treat them once they’ve occurred. Some steps you can take to keep flares at bay include:

  • Drinking plenty of water and limiting consumption of sweetened drinks, especially ones made with high-fructose corn syrup

  • Limit or avoid alcohol

  • Limit consumption of meat, poultry, and fish

  • Exercise and eat a healthy, balanced diet to maintain a healthy weight (avoid rapid weight loss or fasting, though, as these can increase uric acid production)

Final Thoughts

If you or someone you love suffers from gout attacks, be sure to keep this information in mind. There are lots of things you can do to lessen the severity of these attacks and prevent them from coming back in the future.

 

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