Gout - The 19 Most Frequently Asked Questions Answered (Episode 1)

FAQ Diaries (Part 5): Gout – The 19 Most Frequently Asked Questions (Episode 1)

Contributed by: Rachana Arya



Gout, a common and complex form of inflammatory arthritis can affect anyone. Once assumed to be an affluent disease caused by too much rich food and drinks, it is now known to affect people from all walks of life. It mostly develops in people who have a surplus of uric acid in the body. It is marked by sudden, acute pain, swelling, redness, and tenderness in one or more joints, most commonly the big toe.

If gout has made an unwanted presence in your life, talk to your doctor for the best treatment options for you. 

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FAQ #1: What are the symptoms of gout?

Symptoms of gout are:

    • Feeling of heat and tenderness in the joint, to the point of being unable to bear anything touching it
    • Acute swelling of the afflicted joint and its surrounding areas
    • Skin that is red and shiny over the affected joint
    • Peeling, itchy and flaky skin as the swelling subsides


FAQ #2: Are the flare-ups of gout painful?

For some people, an attack of gout is so severe that it can interfere with everyday activities, work, and family life. The pain can often wake you up in the middle of the night. It can also contribute to multiple visits to the doctor. During a gout episode, there is a sensation that your big toe is on fire. Even the weight of the bedsheet on the affected joint may appear bothersome because it is hot, swollen, and sensitive.


FAQ #3: Are gout flareups constant?

No. Gout flare-ups do not follow a stated timeframe. Gout flare-ups can occur suddenly and may come and go. They can increase in frequency, length, and severity in certain people.


FAQ #4: What health factors cause gout flare-ups?

Some of the health conditions that have been linked to gout are:

    • Obesity
    • Diabetes, or prediabetes
    • Dehydration
    • Joint injury
    • Infections
    • Congestive heart failure
    • High blood pressure
    • Kidney disease


FAQ #5: How long does a gout flare-up last?

Even if no therapy is administered, an acute gout attack would usually peak 12 to 24 hours after commencement and then gradually fades away. It takes 7 to 14 days to fully recover from a gout episode without medication.


FAQ #6: What foods cause gout?

Some foods that often trigger gout attacks include:

    • Red meat, pork, lamb
    • Seafood, especially shellfish
    • Peas, beans, lentils, spinach
    • Sweetened drinks
    • Sodas and juices high in fruit sugars 
    • Alcoholic beverages


FAQ #7:  What is the best drink for gout?

Cherry juice has been found to have many health benefits. It significantly reduces the level of serum uric acid levels in the body. Coffee also appears to be beneficial in lowering the uric acid levels as well as reduces the chance of getting gout a flare-up.


FAQ #8: Can drinking a lot of water flush out uric acid?

During a gout flare-up, it is recommended to increase the water intake, as water helps to flush uric acid from your system.


FAQ #9: Is consuming chicken good for gout?

Fish, poultry, and red meat are all OK in moderation (around 100 to 200 grams per day) and have no negative effects if suffering from gout. 


FAQ #10: Is there any relation between gout and arterial fibrillation?

According to research, gout sufferers are more likely to develop atrial fibrillation (AFib). Inflammation is the clearest link between gout and AFib. Both disorders are characterized by widespread inflammation throughout the body.


FAQ #11: What are some of the diseases whose symptoms can mimick gout?

    • Infected joint (septic arthritis) 
    • Bacterial skin infection (cellulitis) 
    • Stress fracture
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Psoriatic arthritis


FAQ #12: Does walking on a gout foot make it worse?

Even in cases with severe arthritis, walking with gout is safe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends engaging in joint-friendly physical exercises to help with gout pain.


FAQ #13: Should you wear socks with gout?

It is generally recommended to keep yourself warm by donning thick clothes and socks. Exposing your feet to the cold often affects the big toe, which can aggravate the condition. 


FAQ #14: Can wearing shoes affect gout?

Poorly fitting shoes can contribute to a gout attack. Hence, susceptible people should make sure that the toe area of their shoes is wide enough to accommodate the feet without pinching or rubbing. 


FAQ #15: Does soaking your feet in cold water help with gout?

The most common and most successful method is to soak in cold water. Ice packs may also be effective. When inflammation isn’t as severe, soaking in hot water is usually recommended. Using heat and cold treatments alternately may also be beneficial.


FAQ #16: How do you calm gout pain?

    • Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
    • Apply ice to the joint
    • Elevate the joint
    • Take it easy
    • Stay hydrated


FAQ #17: Can gout be permanently cured?

Given that there is no established cure for gout, so a combination of medications along with dietary and lifestyle changes can help keep gout at bay.


FAQ #18: Does gout require surgery?

Gout is usually treatable without surgery. However, over time, this disorder can cause joint degeneration, tendons tears, and infections in the skin surrounding the joints.


FAQ #19: Can Ayurvedic herbs cure gout?

Several Ayurvedic supplements that contain Triphala, giloy, bitter gourd (karela) can effectively help. To lower uric acid levels in the body, many Ayurvedic practitioners advocate including cherries, dark berries, and turmeric in your diet. You can buy these supplements online. 


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