Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Gout is a common condition that affects many people. It is painful and the first flare ups of gout can be shocking. Gout flare ups are actually painful inflammation of the joints. They are caused by the uric acids. The uric acids are sharp needle like crystals that build up in the bone joints. Though many people think that the gout flare ups occur out of nowhere, they are actually caused by a number of factors that trigger the condition over time. Amongst these, the most common ones are certain foods, medicines, drinks and sometimes, even stress can be a major cause.

About Uric Acid and Hyperuricemia

Now that you have known what exactly leads to the gout flare ups, you must have a brief idea of how the uric acid functions in the body. Uric acid is formed when the body breaks down the purines. The purines are a substance that can be found from certain foods that we eat, or are also available in the body cells. This amount of uric acid that is produced during the breaking down of the purines is eliminated from the body through kidneys or through urine. However, in some cases, people either produce too much of the uric acids or the kidneys fail to eliminate even the normal amount of uric acid that is produced. This is when hyperuricemia occurs and as a consequence, people get gout flare ups.

What Causes Gout Flare Ups & How to Get Rid of it?

What Causes Gout Flare Ups?

As already mentioned, uric acid is produced due to the breakdown of purines; hence, it is very important that you avoid the foods that are high in purines. The more purines you consume, the higher will be the uric acid levels in your blood.

Though it is quite difficult to absolutely eliminate all foods that contain purines, here is a list of the foods that are high in purine levels and avoiding them as much as possible is always advised.

Seafoods that Cause Gout Flare Ups:

Seafood like shrimp, scallops, mussels, crab, lobster etc. contain a high level of purines and no matter how appealing they might look, it must be completely avoided in order to prevent chances of gout flare ups.

Fish

Although not all fish, but there are certain fishes like herring, sardines, mackerel, trout, codfish, haddock and anchovies etc. that can be quite sensitive for you, if you have hyperuricemia or bring in the chances of gout flare ups. Hence, it is better to avoid these fishes and switch to the other options that are low on purines.

Gout Flare Ups due to Meat and Organ Meat

Red meats are not only dangerous for people with high cholesterol or heart diseases, but also for people who have hyperuricemia. Beef, pork, lamb, turkey or bacon and any other red meat for that matter can cause gout flare ups. Here, it must also be mentioned that even fatty poultry chicken is not allowed if you are a gout sufferer. To satiate your desire for meat, you can go for a small amount of lean chicken in your diet and always make sure that you always trim off the fat. As it is not possible to trim the fat off from minced meat, hence avoid them.

Not just meat, but organ meats also contain a high amount of purines and may cause gout flare ups. So, brains, liver, heart, kidney, cow tongue, eyeballs etc. must be removed from diet.

However, all meats do not produce the same amount of purines. Since red meat contains higher amount of purines than white meat, one can take it in moderate amounts. You can occasionally indulge in pork or beef; while lamb and turkey should be avoided as much as possible. At the same time, leg meat of lamb contains more purines than lamb chops. On the other hand, chicken leg is better than chicken breast. In general, chicken and duck are safer choices and turkey must be avoided completely.

Alcohol Can Cause Gout Flare Ups

Alcohol is something that not only increases the uric acid level in the blood, but also makes it difficult for the body to get rid of the uric acid. However, when it comes to alcohol, just like meat, some types of alcohol are still better than the others. While beer is a strict no, wine can still be consumed in rare occasions.

Sugary Drinks

Sugary drinks that contain high amount of fructose can cause sudden gout flare ups. So, they must be avoided. Fizzed drinks that contain fructose or corn syrups, which are high in fructose level, can cause gout flare ups and should not be consumed.

Gout Flare Ups Caused Due to Certain Vegetables

Not just meat and alcohol, but some vegetables also contain high to moderate amount of purines and may increase your uric acid levels and cause gout flare ups. These would include ladies finger, tomatoes, green chillies, and red lentils. Most of the lentils for that matter contain a high to moderate amount of purines and hence, must be removed from diet, if you are prone to gout flare ups.

Stress

Stress is also a cause of gout flare ups that many people do not know. If you are too stressed due to work or any other personal problem, your body might produce more uric acids or fail to get rid of the amount that is produced and thereby, cause gout flare ups.

Lifestyle Changes as a Reason for Gout Flare Ups

Nowadays, the people are prone to crash diets and fasting in order to lose weight rapidly. This, on the other hand, causes gout flare ups as the body starts to break down the purines from the body cells and thereby produce uric acids.

Dehydration Can Cause Gout Flare Ups

Many people do not realize the importance of drinking enough water every day. Dehydration can also cause gout flare ups. This is because, the water that we consume, helps the body (especially the kidneys) to get the toxins and body wastes out of the body. Dehydrated body will not be able to remove the uric acid crystals and as a consequence they will be stored in the body joints, causing gout flare ups, inflammation and extreme pain in the joints.

Health Conditions Responsible for Gout Flare Ups:

Sometimes, stress due to health conditions like pneumonia or medical procedures such as visiting the hospital or undergoing a surgery may also increase your uric acid levels. If you are visiting the doctor or have fallen sick or are going to the hospital for a surgery, make sure that you tell your doctor that you have gout.

How to Get Rid of Gout Flare Ups?

If you have had gout flare ups earlier and want to prevent it further, it is very important that you have a check on your diet or what you are eating. Avoid or eliminate all the foods that are high in purines or may increase your chances of gout flare ups.

Indulge in a healthy lifestyle. Eat properly. Avoid gorging into rich, oily or fatty food and rely on lean, fat free, healthy foods. Do not drink at all if possible. Otherwise, make sure that you do not indulge in more than two drinks per day. Drink plenty of water and maintain a healthy body weight. This will help you to cope with the gout pain, if any occurs.

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: August 29, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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