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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    6 replies to "Interview With A Young Gout Sufferer"

    • Carlos

      Reading this lying in bed suffering from my most recent flare up on my right foot and on the side of my pinky toe. My first gout attack was when I was 23. I am now 31. In between my first attack ever and now it rarely happened. Maybe twice in between. But now, I’m getting flare ups every other week. It’s terrible.

      I’m glad I found this site and learning more about gout and hearing everyone out there and their stories gives me confidence that I too can make the change in my life required to stop this. Thank you all!

    • John

      Wow 19 is really young. My first attack was 5 months ago when I was 31 which was in my left big toe. I did a big cut on sugar, have pretty much cut beer except the occasional one and the rare glass of wine.

      I have been taking celery seeds and a Alfalfa supplement daily which seemed to be working great for 5 months. I had mostly not been taking the supplements and just got an attack in my right ankle. So its hard to say for sure as I had 1 beer a few days prior but might link it more to the fact I stopped taking the supplements.

      This time around I will have to stay diligent with the supplements and continue working on a healthy diet. I did as well start to exercise more the last few months which had not caused any issues.

      I am not sure if it is due to my age but my doctor did not seem to take my complaints too seriously. I did a blood test and they failed to even report back to me on the results. When I pushed them for another appointment they noted my levels where high but not crazy to which I asked for another test, however they declined and said wait till you have another one. I was disappointed they didnt want to at least come up with a plan, I got the feeling they didn’t know much about gout. They seemed to be much more concerned that my blood pressure was a little elevated.

    • Andrew DeMario

      My first gout flare was at age 59 which was seven years ago. It was in my left big toe. I continued to get them in increasing frequency over the years, always in my left foot, usually that big toe. I took NSAIDs (Ibuprofin) and toughed it out.

      In the Spring last year (2016) I got an attack in my right ankle. The pains and discomfort lasted about a month then it migrated to my left ankle and then back to the right ankle. I suffered with it for over two months, taking Ibuprofin for the pain, especially before going to bed at night.

      I had quit all alcohol about a year before hoping that would alleviate matters, since I had been drinking far too much beer and wine. I had also reduced my intake of meat and seafoods by more than half. It didn’t work and I refuse to take medications.

      What worked was becoming a lacto/ovo vegetarian, greatly increasing the amount of water I drink and taking 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in 4-6 ounces of water just before I go to bed every night.

      The last couple of years the attacks had increased to one at least every other month. I have now been gout free for nine months and I do not take any pharmaceuticals at all.

    • Kenneth

      This latest attack occurred 2 weeks ago, migrating from the side of my right ankle to the back of my ankle, to the base of my right big toe where it settled, and then has recently flared in the side of my ankle again. Finałly my PCP referred me to a rheumatologist; she told me she was going to hav to inject my joint. She did an ultrasound before and revealed tophus as well as bone loss due to the crystals. Prior to this latest attack, I would treat the flares with endomethecin with some success and occasionally Prednisone. My wife has been very supportive in my diet and we both eat minimal red meat, shellfish and drink little alcohol (the month prior I had maybe one beer and a glass of wine); no organ meat. We try to stick to a Mediterranean type diet. Since this attack, I will not consume another beer (I am a home Brewer [ex]). I have been consuming tart cherry extract, tart cherry juice, turmeric, and vitamin C, all without relief. I think now that the attack has subsided, maybe the supplements will provide some sort of protection against future flares. Time will tell. I want to merge into a vegetarian diet.

    • Dave

      I’m practically a vegetarian now. Chicken maybe once a week. No alcohol. No flares in almost a year now since going vegetarian. No alcohol in ten years. I was flaring fairly regularly before that with a very severe attack in my right knee last May. That’s when I started on the plant based diet.

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