By Colette Dreyer RD (SA)

Gout is a form of arthritis and one of the most painful types due to the swelling, redness and sudden attacks that occur. These symptoms can come and go. Gout is categorized as abnormal uric acid levels in the blood. The uric acid crystals cause inflammation and pain in the joints which lead to the severe pain of a gout attack. Uric acid is formed when your body breaks down purines. Purines are naturally found in your body, but also found in some foods such as organ, and red meat, sardines, tuna, trout, beer etc. Uric acid usually dissolves in your blood, moves through the kidney’s and gets excreted in the urine, however it may happen that your body produces too much uric acid, or the kidney’s remove too little uric acid, that could cause a build up of uric acid that may result in a gout attack.

Gout symptoms:

  • Inflammation and redness of the affected joints
  • Severe joint pain that commonly affect the elbow, ankles, toe, fingers and wrists.
  • Limited movement due to severe pain

Factors increasing uric acid levels in the body:

1) Diet:

  • High red meat and shellfish consumption
  • Alcohol consumption especially beer
  • Drinking drinks flavoured with fructose

2) Overweight

  • If you are overweight your body produce more uric acid.

3) Family history of gout:

  • If some family members experience gout your risk may be higher as it can be heredity.

4) Medical conditions

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease
  • Metabolic syndrome

5) Medication

  • Aspirin
  • Some medication used to treat high blood pressure

6) Gender

Men are more likely to get gout as women tend to have lower uric acid levels compared to men.


Colchicine, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids can be used to prevent gout flare-ups. Other medication can also be used to treat gout which is the most effective treatment option. Medication options can be discussed with you general practitioner. Today we are going to discuss some lifestyle factors that may be effective to treat gout attacks and to prevent more flare-ups.

Lifestyle factors:

1) Avoid high purine foods such as red meat, organ meat and shellfish

2) Reach a healthy body weight if you are overweight

3) Exercise regularly

4) Limit alcoholic beverages and drinks flavoured with fructose

5) Drink lots of water

Help relieve the pain and discomfort by visiting your medical practitioner for advice and management of gout.