Know Gout’s Triggers and Treatments During the Holidays

11/27/2013

As the festive fall/winter holidays approach, overindulgence in holiday cheer can put your feet at risk for a gout attack, a painful condition brought on when uric acid builds up and crystalizes in and around your joints. According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS), gout attacks often occur in the joint of a person's big toe since the toe is the coolest part of the body because of its distance from the heart and uric acid is sensitive to temperature change.  To help keep gout attacks in your toes at bay this holiday season, ACFAS offers these tips:

  1. Avoid Food Triggers - Avoid or limit consuming foods and beverages containing high levels of purines (a chemical found naturally in our bodies and in some foods) such as red meat, shellfish, organ meats (kidney, liver, etc.) red wine and beer.
  2. Know Your Risk Factors- The tendency to accumulate uric acid is often inherited. Other risk factors include: high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, stress, chemotherapy and certain vitamins (niacin) and medications such as aspirin or diuretic medications. Gout is more common in men aged 40-60 but can occur in younger men as well as in women. While it is most commonly found in the big toe joint, any joint in your body is at risk.

If this holiday season you develop intense pain that comes on suddenly -often in the middle of the night or upon arising or signs of inflammation such as redness, swelling and warmth over your toe joint, seek care from a foot and ankle surgeon for a proper diagnosis.  In repeat cases of gout episodes, the underlying problem must be addressed as the build-up of uric acid over time can cause arthritic damage to the joint.

Gout can often be treated with medications, dietary restrictions, increase fluid consumption and immobilization and elevation of the foot.

For more information on gout or other foot and ankle health-related topics or to find a foot and ankle surgeon in your area, visit the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeon's patient education website at FootHealthFacts.org. 

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