Gout is a chronic condition that occurs when elevated levels of uric acid cause arthritis pain in the joints. The attacks are very sudden and can be difficult to predict. Symptoms of flares include stiffness, swelling, and extreme pain, which can be caused by the lightest pressure, such as from a bedsheet. Physicians can administer and prescribe many treatments for gout to reduce attacks and manage symptoms when they occur, but various home remedies can supplement medical therapies. Always speak to a doctor before making significant changes to diet or lifestyle.
One of easiest and most significant ways to prevent or ease gout flare-ups is to drink more water. Staying hydrated reduces the amount of uric acid in the body. Fluctuations in this chemical cause gout, and flushing out as much as possible will reduce symptoms. There are plenty of apps available to help track water consumption and provide reminders. Proper hydration also helps avoid the formation of kidney stones and maintain a healthy weight, an excess of which can also trigger gout.
Gout flare-ups often make it difficult for an affected individual to move without pain. Though this can impact day-to-day activities and productivity, it may also be viewed as a good reminder to reduce one's responsibilities until the flare-up has passed. Rest is one of the best remedies for a gout attack. Ideally, the person will stay off the affected joint as much as possible and elevate it when possible. Elevating the extremity may also help reduce swelling.
Applying a cold compress during a gout attack can help ease inflammation and pain. Unfortunately, sensitivity to pressure can make this a problematic treatment in some cases. Soaking the joint in cold water is a similar but gentler option. Keep the foot or other joint elevated when using the compress, if possible, or elevate for 20 minutes after soaking in water. Be careful not to soak too long or let the water temperature get too cold, as this can make symptoms worse.
Alcohol can aggravate gout and trigger flare-ups because of the role it plays in raising uric acid levels. Even the occasional drink at a social event can prompt symptoms. Research shows beer is the worst offender, but avoiding all alcohol is ideal when a person has experienced gout. Caffeine can trigger flare-ups as well, and people with gout should limit their consumption. In some cases, drinking water after consuming an alcoholic or caffeinated beverage can lessen the risk of an attack.
Apple cider vinegar can be an inexpensive home remedy for gout, helping reduce pain and inflammation. Apples contain malic acid, which can help to lower uric acid levels. Because the vinegar is so acidic, it is best to drink it diluted in a glass of water. This both increases water intake and prevents the vinegar from affecting tooth enamel or upsetting the stomach.
Ginger root is another kitchen staple with anti-inflammatory properties. There are many ways to increase ginger in the diet, including drinking ginger tea. For gout, a ginger root paste can be especially effective. Mix fresh ginger root with water until it is paste-like and apply it to the swollen joint for 30 to 40 minutes. This can help reduce swelling and pain. Some people may react to the topical application of ginger, so it is best to try some on a small area first.
As mentioned, specific foods and drinks can increase uric acid and trigger gout flare-ups. In addition to alcohol and caffeine, sugar, salt, and foods high in purines, such as seafood, are common culprits that trigger attacks. People with gout should avoid organ meats like liver and sausage and avoid processed sugar items such as candy and soft drinks as well as foods that contain a high salt content. Some people can prevent gout attacks or significantly reduce their impact simply by eliminated such foods from their diets.
Certain fruit can benefit people with gout. Lemons, for example, have alkaline properties that reduce uric acid. Adding lemon juice to water or food can help reduce acid and adds flavor in place of salt and sugar. In addition to the malic acid in apples, potassium and vitamin C in bananas can help reduce swelling and pain and decrease flare-ups. Cherries also have anti-inflammatory properties and are a healthy alternative to satisfy a sweet tooth. Choose fruits with low purines and high fiber content.
A paste made from activated charcoal can benefit people with gout as some people believe it absorbs uric acid. Leave the paste on the inflamed joint for about half an hour to draw out uric acid and decrease swelling, speeding recovery. Using cool water to clean off the paste adds the benefit of a compress or soak.
Baking soda is another popular and wide-ranging home remedy. Adding a teaspoon of this alkaline agent to a cup of water can help ease gout flare-ups but shouldn't be taken in excess as large quantities can be detrimental. As always, speak to a doctor about any home remedies you are using or plan to try. The physician will let you know whether any options are poorly suited to your case and warn of any possible side effects or drug interactions. Ideally, people with gout will follow a treatment regimen that combines medical care and home remedies.
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