Gout is a form of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid in the body. When too much uric acid builds up, crystals can form that leave deposits in the joints. These deposits can cause pain, redness and inflammation, which are hallmark symptoms of gout. The condition most commonly develops in the big toe, but it can affect any joint, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Several prescription and over-the-counter drugs are available to treat and prevent gout and control the pain of a gout attack, but you can also try some home remedies.
If you’re prone to gout, making changes to your diet can help prevent future flare-ups and can also ease the pain of an acute gout attack. A substance called purines that occurs naturally in the body and in some foods can contribute to gout, so it’s important to limit consumption. Foods high in purines include animal-based proteins, especially red meats; seafood such as scallops, shrimp and lobster; and certain types of fish, including tuna, herring and mackerel.
The Mayo Clinic recommends that people prone to gout limit their animal protein intake to 4 to 6 ounces daily. Instead of animal proteins, choose plant-based proteins such as soy. It’s also important for people prone to gout to limit their alcohol intake, which can also contribute to a gout attack.
Soaking joints that are sore and swollen because of gout can provide some relief. Try dissolving one-third cup of ground ginger in a hot bath and soaking your affected joints. The ginger will make you sweat, which will help remove some of the excess uric acid from your body. Soak for about a half hour, and make sure you rinse with clean water afterward to prevent the ginger from irritating your skin. For another effective soaking bath for gout, dissolve 2 cups of Epsom salts in a hot bath. Soak your affected joint until the water is no longer warm.
Vitamin C can help lower uric acid levels associated with gout, according to the Mayo Clinic.To increase vitamin C consumption, you can eat more foods containing the vitamin or take a supplement. Vitamin C occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables, including citrus fruits and bell peppers. If you opt to take a supplement, do not take a megadose of vitamin C. Doses in excess of 500 milligrams a day can raise uric acid levels.
Similar to vitamin C, studies have shown that cherries are associated with lower uric acid levels, according to the Mayo Clinic. Eating cherries regularly may help clear up a gout attack or reduce your chances of experiencing a future attack. Try drinking a glass of cherry juice every day or eating 12 to 15 cherries a day. Try eating other dark fruits and berries such as blueberries and blackberries.
One of the easiest ways to treat a gout attack at home is by increasing your fluid intake, especially by drinking more water. When you drink more fluids, you will increase your urine output, which will help flush excess uric acid out of the body. The National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases recommends that people prone to gout drink plenty of water every day.
About this Author
Meghan McMahon lives in the Chicago suburbs, where she spent six years as a newspaper journalist before becoming a part-time freelance writer and editor and full-time mother. She received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University in 2000 and has written for “The Daily Southtown” and “The Naperville Sun” in suburban Chicago.