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Martin Foot & Ankle

Taming Gout Triggers

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If you’re just out of college—or you know someone about that age—you might be familiar with the phrase “trigger warning.” It’s a notice that sometimes gets applied to study material that might shock, startle, or offend certain sensibilities.

Foot PainWe won’t comment one way or another about trigger warnings in academia. That said, we are very much pro-trigger warning when it comes to gout! Attacks from this form of inflammatory arthritis are profoundly painful and can last hours or days. Avoiding the triggers is an essential coping strategy. Common gout triggers include:

  • Food. No, not all foods are gout triggers. (Thank goodness!) However, foods that are rich in certain proteins called purines often are. Purines break down into uric acid, and too much uric acid is what causes gout attacks in the first place. Red meats, organ meats, and shellfish are examples of foods that typically fall into this category.
  • Drink. Alcohol, especially beer, can raise the level of uric acid in the bloodstream. Sugary drinks that contain fructose also tend to be associated with gout flare-ups. Good news though: coffee is A-OK!
  • Dehydration. You need to be well hydrated in order for your kidneys to flush excess uric acid from your bloodstream efficiently. Consequently, those who are dehydrated are more likely to experience an attack.
  • Certain medications. If you’re taking drugs for a manageable condition, such as high blood pressure or heart failure, you may be more susceptible to gout attacks. Diuretics, beta-blockers, chemotherapy drugs, cyclosporine, and even aspirin are associated with gout flare-ups.
  • Certain medical conditions. Any number of illnesses, diseases, or infections might cause a spike in uric acid levels and trigger an attack. If you get sick or have to go to the hospital or urgent care, make sure you tell your doctor that you have gout.
     

If you know you’re at high risk for gout attacks, watch out for those triggers! If you do suffer an attack, make sure you call our office right away. Untreated gout usually only leads to worsening pain and, in some cases, lasting damage and injury to the affected joint. Call Martin Foot & Ankle today at (717) 757-3537.

Dr. Jennifer Mulhern
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