Many people have heard of gout, but they don’t really know what it is or what causes it. TV shows and movies often portray it as a condition that only affects the elderly, but anyone can develop gout. So, what is gout? What causes this condition, and are there any natural remedies?
What is Gout?
Gout is a form of arthritis that can cause severe pain, swelling, and discomfort in the joints. The big toe is the most commonly affected joint, but gout can also affect the knees, ankles, wrists, fingers, and elbows.
Although it’s more common in older men, gout can affect anyone, and the symptoms often appear suddenly.
What are the Causes of Gout?
Gout is caused by a build-up of urate crystals in the joint. This build-up causes intense pain and inflammation that is known as gout.
Urate crystals develop when there are high levels of uric acid in the blood. Your body naturally produces uric acid when it breaks down purines, but certain foods can also contain purines and can increase the risk of gout, such as:
- Organ meats, like liver
- Red meat
- Drinks sweetened with fructose
- Beer and other alcoholic beverages
Uric acid typically dissolves as it moves through your kidneys, but if your body is producing too much of it, it can build up and create the urate crystals that cause gout.
There are several factors that can increase your risk of gout, including:
- Your diet: A diet rich in shellfish, red meat, alcoholic beverages, and fructose-sweetened drinks can increase your risk of gout.
- Your weight: Being overweight increases the risk of gout because your body produces more uric acid.
- Medications: Certain blood pressure medications, anti-rejection drugs, and low-dose aspirin can increase the risk of uric acid.
- Health conditions: Some medical conditions can increase the risk of gout, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and kidney disease.
- Family history: If you have a family history of gout, you’re more likely to develop it yourself.
Symptoms of Gout
The symptoms of gout typically appear suddenly and at night. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Swelling: Affected joints become swollen and inflamed.
- Severe joint pain: Pain is typically most severe within the first 4-12 hours after an attack starts. The intense pain will eventually subside, but discomfort can linger for several days or even weeks. As gout progresses, attacks may last longer and affect multiple joints.
- Loss of range of motion: In its later stages, gout can limit the range of motion in your joints.
When gout first appears, it can cause severe burning in the big toe to the point where the weight of a bedsheet causes extreme pain.
The symptoms of gout can come and go. Some people experience frequent attacks, while others may go years without an episode.
Natural Remedies for Gout
There's no cure for gout, but there are natural remedies you can try to help manage your symptoms. Be sure to talk to your doctor first before trying any of the natural remedies below.
Magnesium plays an important role in many of your body’s functions, from energy production to nerve and muscle function. But it can also help fight inflammation by reducing the CRP inflammatory marker.
In addition to being anti-inflammatory, research shows that magnesium may also help lower uric acid levels.
If you eat a standard western diet, there’s a chance that you may not be getting enough magnesium from your diet alone. Supplements can help, or you can try adding more magnesium-rich foods to your diet, such as:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Dark leafy greens
- Almonds, cashews, and peanuts
- Dark chocolate
If you’re looking for a way to manage your gout symptoms through your diet, try eating more cherries.
Cherries are rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, and other nutrients, but they also contain anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are the pigments that give cherries their red color. They have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which may help with the treatment of gout.
Prized for its anti-inflammatory effects, ginger is another popular natural remedy for gout. In fact, ginger is a well-documented remedy for this painful condition, and it may be helpful when taken orally or topically.
- Topical ginger has been shown to reduce uric acid-related pain.
- When taken orally, ginger has been shown to lower uric acid levels in rats.
Giner may interact with some medications, so It's important to talk to your doctor before adding it to your routine.
Gout is a painful condition that only progresses if left untreated. The natural remedies above may help ease your symptoms and even lower uric acid levels (the root cause of the problem).
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