We often hear of people lamenting about unbearable pain because gout is attacking their joints causing stiffness, swelling, deformity and impaired movement. The damage is magnified when gout causes chronic kidney disease and even worse, when it leads to kidney failure.
Gout occurs with the buildup of uric acid in the joints and kidneys. While Uric acid is a normal waste product that dissolves in the blood and is passed out of the body through urine, extra uric acid that is not passed out of the body crystallizes and causes gout. To prevent gout attacks the uric acid should ideally remain below 6.0 mg/dL. A condition of having excess uric acid is called hyperuricemia.
Food and drinks that mostly contribute to gout attacks include seafood, red meat, organ meat, high-fructose corn syrup, sugar-sweetened items that are usually popular during the holidays and beer and liquor. Those with high blood pressure, obese, have high blood sugar and high cholesterol may have higher levels of uric acid that leads to gout. Just as gout can cause kidney diseases and kidney failure, the latter can also cause the gout. Other causes are severe illness, stress, hypothyroidism and physical exertion.
Uric acid crystals that are not passed out of the body become large stones that can permanently damage the kidneys in two ways: first by obstructing the passing of wastes and causing infections; and second by wounding the kidneys with the stones’ sharp edges. These can both lead to CKD or kidney failure.
How do you eliminate gout attacks and kidney damage? You can prevent and even eliminate gout attacks by simply changing your lifestyle. High uric acid is caused by obesity and high blood pressure. If you eliminate the causes for these two you are most likely to be free from gout attacks. This would mean consuming a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low fat dairy products. As mentioned above sugar-sweetened foods and drinks like soda and sugared juices, or those with high fructose syrup should be avoided. Beer and alcoholic beverages should be limited, along with meat and fish – especially shrimp and lobster. Crash diets which make the uric acid harder to dissolve should also be avoided. It is recommended that we drink at least 64 ounces of water daily to minimize the risk of stones forming in the kidneys.
You can monitor how you’re doing by recording your weight, blood pressure, gout symptoms and the causes or triggers for the gout attacks. You will be able to point out the causes of your problems through this record with the help of your doctor. It is also important to strictly follow the treatment plan outlined by your doctor.