What causes gout exactly?
Gout is developed once there is too much uric acid in the blood, a condition known as hyperuricemia. Uric acid is a waste product that comes about when the body breaks down chemicals in the cells known as purines. If your kidneys can’t fully remove all excess uric acid passed out through your urine to leave your body, then you got a problem.
That problem is the uric acid will crystallize into microscopic crystals into your joints or surrounding tissue and voila! You have a gout attack! The affected joint is inflamed and you suffer from intense pain. Gout attacks often hit you in the joints of your feet or hands because that’s where the temperature is often lower than the rest of your body.
Usually it strikes the big toe but sometimes it may include your knees, elbows, ankles, thumbs or fingers. Because men’s uric acid levels rise during puberty and remain higher than women throughout adulthood, gout occurs about three to four times more often in men than in women. Women are more prone to gout after menopause, and it is rare that gout occurs in children and young adults.
So what are some of the risk factors?
Some of the factors that can increase your risk of developing gout are usually medical conditions, lifestyle factors and your genes! Medical conditions that can increase uric acid levels in your body and that have been discussed in previous posts in this website include high blood pressure (hypertension) so make sure to keep low at all times and eat foods that raise your HDL (good cholesterol).
Having high levels of fat and cholesterol in your bloodstream (hyperlipidemia) can wreak havoc to your health. Diabetes both types 1 and 2 increases your risk of developing gout, again watch your sugar intake and completely eliminate high fructose corn syrup from your diet. Suffering from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis in your feet, knees or hands may increase the likelihood of the development of gout later on.
What you have to do dear beloved is watch what you eat, follow a good diet. You can learn what a good diet should consist of in my ebook Gout and You: The Ultimate Gout Diet & Cookbook where I discuss the philosophy of what has consisted of a good diet and I back it up as always with studies from the medical community, no latest fly-by-night diets like Paleo or Atkins that will kill you before your time!
Furthermore, gout may also occur in the presence of some tumours or cancers. Chemotherapy can trigger a gout attack! So can leukemia and did you also know that exposure to lead in the environment may also cause gout? Lastly, a joint injury or even a surgery may cause uric acid levels to rise out of nowhere and cause you a gout attack.
Finally, people who suffer from blood conditions and thalassemia like I do (I suffer from a mild form of thalassemia and is the cause of my gout) are also at risk of developing gout. It’s a big list of potential people that can develop gout, let me tell you!
Medications that can cause gout
Next up you got a long list of medications that can increase your risk of developing gout and a lot of these medications are related to the medical conditions mentioned above. First up, diuretics or water pills which are used to treat high blood pressure can trigger gout as well as other drugs used to treat high blood pressure like beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers and ACE inhibitors.
Niacin which is used to treat high cholesterol is on the list as well. For those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and take the drug cyclosporine are at risk of gout too! Levodopa which is used to treat patients who suffer from Parkinson’s disease has also show to increase the risk of developing gout. Even taking a low dose of aspirin often may lead to gout. Those patients that have heart issues and their doctor advises they take aspirin on a daily basis, tread carefully.
Diet can cause gout
Next up is diet and boy is it important. Why do you think gout has been rising so fast since the 1970s and is even moving faster in the past few years? One word only. Diet. We are eating more meat than ever, we are eating more sugar than ever and we are eating more refined carbs more than ever!
Eventually something has to give and your health begins deteriorating. Check out my ebook for a more extensive conversation about diet and list of foods to avoid but foods that are high in purines include meat such as beef, lamb and pork; seafood such as any type of shellfish and organ meats like liver, kidneys and heart.
The list includes sugary drinks which include high fructose corn syrup in them. Now you understand why obesity increases the risk of developing gout. I was obese when I first developed gout, I was 50 pounds overweight! I used to drink Coca-Cola like it was water! Did you know that crash diets and fasting may also trigger a gout attack? Doing this may suddenly spike your uric acid levels in the blood. Dehydration may also be a cause of gout, so make sure to always drink plenty of water and stay hydrated during hot days or when physically active.
Alcohol is also a widely known cause of gout since it interferes with the excretion of uric acid and alcohol also contain purines, especially beer!
Finally, genetics also plays a role in causing you gout. Roughly 1 in 5 gout sufferers have a family member who also has the condition. There you have it; a comprehensive list of gout causes.