How a 19 Year Old Developed Gout

If you’ve been following my social media accounts where I post the latest news on gout from around the world, you’ll notice how gout is increasing amongst young persons starting in their late teens. I’ve also written a post about it on this site that you can check out as well. In this post, I interview Alexander, a young adult who was diagnosed with hyperuricemia from the tender age of 19. I hope you enjoy this interview.

Alexander when did you develop high uric acid and how did you find out?

While my first attack was in 2011 when I was 19, I had absolutely no idea that it was gout at the time. I was in university and the doctors on campus all thought it was a sports injury of some sort, and referred me to physiotherapists. They then diagnosed it as plantar fasciitis, 3 years later (2014), with attacks happening ~3-4 times a year, my family doctor finally got me to do a blood test, revealing that uric acid levels were at 14 mg/dL, more than double the high end of the reference range!

Tell me a little bit more about your family’s history with hyperuricemia and how your mom has been dealing with it?

As for my family history suffering from hyperuricemia, I did not know about this until after I was diagnosed with gout. My mother’s older brother, and their mother (my grandma) all had varying degrees of hyperuricemia, but none of them had gout flares, so I’m suspecting that it’s not overly high.

Did your mom, uncle and grandmother take anything to manage their hyperuricemia?

None of them did or have done anything to try and fix it. They never got any gout symptoms like I did.

What medications are you presently taking?

I’m currently taking allopurinol 300mg and colchicine 0.6 mg once daily. I started taking this about 3 months ago, after the rheumatologist recommended it. There’s some back-up Indomethacin as well, to quell flares when they arise, but I have not had an attack since starting the cocktail of drugs.

Do you experience any side effects with the allopurinol like rashes and colchicine like diarrhea? or anything else?

No side effects so far with either.

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What are your thoughts about diet and what does your diet consist of?

My diet has changed a lot since my investment banking days. Protein comes from egg whites, enriched carbohydrates, low fat dairy, chicken breast, salmon. Quit red meat cold-turkey. Most of my diet is carbs and veggies. My doctor also made me get monthly blood tests, and my uric acid concentration is now down to ~9.8, so I still have a ways to go.

Have you done any dietary experiments?

We suspect that beetroot / beet juice helps lower inflammation, but can’t be sure. Tried lemon juice in my water but that led to a whole messy flare where my knee grew to the size of a balloon. No experiments other than that. People tend to condemn certain foods when they think it’s associated with a flare, but most of the time it’s just correlation and not causation… I also don’t drink alcohol of any kind anymore.

How old are you now? and tell me more about your diet during the investment banking days. What did your diet consist of?

I am now 24. Diet during the investment banking days was a lot worse, lots of meat (steak especially), aggressive drinking 2+ times a week! Sometimes we’d try to go healthy, but because of the long hours, the team would almost always eat all meals at the office (i.e. takeout), sometimes eating 4+ times a day because we’d be at work until 3-4am.

Do you still exercise? What does your routine include?

I do still exercise, swim twice a week, bike every weekday morning. Stopped lifting weights though because the rheumatologist said it would be bad on the (already deteriorated) joints.

Thank you Alexander for taking some time today from your busy schedule to answer some questions and hope will be helpful to young adults around the world to realize how important good eating habits are from a young age. Many young adults feel immortal in their late teens and into their twenties, just like I did and the consequences are pretty serious when you think what can occur to your health down the road.

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