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Gout: Dr. Rosemary Leonard advises on symptoms and treatment

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Gout is a form of arthritis that can come on suddenly and surprise patients with a sudden, searing pain in their joints. Although a build-up of uric acid can happen for a number of reasons, including as a result of other medical conditions, diet can play a leading factor in increasing risk.

Gout is the consequence of a build-up of uric acid, information on allied health medical school known as hyperuricemia.

The pain occurs when irate crystals accumulate in your joint, causing inflammation and intense pain.

Uric acid occurs as the body breaks down purines. This is why eating certain purine-rich foods can increase your risk of developing symptoms.

Though some food and beverages may be well known for increasing the risk of gout, such as alcohol and red meat, others may come as a surprise.

Which foods can increase your risk of gout?

Foods with a high-purine content are most likely to contribute towards the risk of developing gout symptoms.

However, foods with moderate purine levels can also contribute to the build-up of uric acid if eaten too frequently.

Food and beverages with a high-purine content include:

  • Red and organ meats including bacon, veal, venison, liver, beef kidney and brain.
  • Certain fish, seafood and shellfish, including anchovies, sardines, mackerel, scallops, herring, mussels, codfish, trout, and haddock.
  • Alcoholic beverages, including beer, wine and spirits.
  • Drinks containing lots of sugar, including fizzy drinks and juices.

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Foods with moderate purine content include:

  • Meats such as beef, veal, poultry, pork and lamb
  • Crabs, lobster, oysters and shrimp
  • Kidney beans, lentils, and lima beans
  • Some vegetables such as asparagus, spinach, green peas and mushrooms

What are the symptoms of gout?

Gout presents itself with a number of often painful symptoms. According to the NHS, it traditionally targets the big toe. However, gout symptoms can also impact the joints in your feet, hands, wrists, elbows or knees.

Pain in the joint is the most common sign of gout.

Alongside pain, symptoms can include hot, swollen, red skin over the affected joint.

These symptoms can last anywhere from five to seven days.

How is gout treated?

Gout is usually treated with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen.

People who think they might have developed gout are advised to visit their GP.

At your appointment the “GP may ask about your diet and if you drink alcohol”, according to the NHS.

If pain and swelling are persistent, you may be prescribed steroids as tablets or an injection.

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