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Lifestyle Changes to Manage Gout
There is no treatment that will cure gout, but there are steps to control symptoms and prevent complications.
- Avoid certain foods and beverages.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Lose weight (if necessary) and maintain an appropriate weight.
Gout pain is caused by glass-like crystals of uric acid that build up in your joints. Uric acid is a by-product of the breakdown of waste products called purines. Therefore, one of the main treatments for gout is to avoid foods and beverages that are high in purines. These include:
- Organ meats, such as liver, kidney, and sweetbreads
- Seafood and shellfish, such as lobster, crab, or sardines
- Red meat, such as beef or lamb
- Some vegetables, such as asparagus, cauliflower, and mushrooms
In addition to avoiding foods high in purines, you should reduce your intake of high-fructose drinks. Examples include sugar-sweetened sodas and sweetened juice.
Avoid alcoholic beverages, especially beer. Be sure to avoid binge drinking of any type of alcohol.
The severity of gout varies from person to person. Talk with your doctor about how strict your diet should be for your individual situation.
Fluids help flush uric acid from the body, so drinking lots of fluids can help control and prevent the recurrence of gout attacks.
Losing weight can help lower uric acid levels. If you are overweight, losing weight should help reduce your symptoms and prevent future gout attacks. However, do not go on a crash diet because this can make your gout worse. Consult your doctor for help designing a safe and effective weight loss program that includes:
- Setting a proper weight loss goal.
- An appropriate diet to both lose weight and maintain a proper weight.
- A regular exercise program .
You should contact your doctor if:
- Your symptoms worsen or do not improve
- You feel weak or ill or develop other problems after starting a weight loss and/or exercise program
Gout. American College of Rheumatology website. Available at: http://www.rheumatology.org/Practice/Clinical/Patients/Diseases%5FAnd%5FConditions/Gout. Updated September 2012. Accessed July 12, 2013.
Gout. Arthritis Foundation website. Available at: http://www.arthritis.org/conditions-treatments/disease-center/gout. Accessed July 12, 2013.
Gout. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated February 13, 2013. Accessed July 12, 2013.
Gout overview. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/gout.html. Updated March 2010. Accessed July 12, 2013.
Gout - prevention of recurrent attacks. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated May 31, 2013. Accessed July 12, 2013.
Questions and answers about gout. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health%5FInfo/Gout/default.asp. Accessed July 12, 2013.
What are purines and in which foods are they found? World's Healthiest Foods website. Available at: http://www.whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=51. Accessed July 12, 2013.
What is gout? National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health%5FInfo/Gout/gout%5Fff.pdf. Accessed July 12, 2013.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 05/2014
- Update Date: 05/28/2014