What are common Gout Myths?
Gout myths are persistent and numerous. This amazes me. You can find contradictory information on many websites about gout and gout treatments if you just look at a few. Even supposedly reliable sites, it won’t take long to find them. These myths are the main reason why gout care has become so poor over the past decade. Bad information is constantly being passed around – over and again. This article will help to dispel some of these myths.
Myths and Facts
- Gout can be treated. Many websites claim to have “gout cures”, but you must send some money. Gout is a genetic condition that affects 90% of people. Gout is a common condition in families. It is impossible to cure genetic conditions. However, it can be managed. Secondary gout is the other 10%. These cases are often caused by an underlying medical condition. These conditions can be very serious, such as lymphoma and kidney disease. Only a few cases are truly “curable”. These cases are often caused by high blood pressure medications, called diuretics, or extreme obesity. Your doctor should check for a secondary reason for gout. If none is found, you may have a genetic condition that cannot be managed.
- Natural or herbal treatments are better than the scary gout medications. Colchicine is a common drug used to treat gout. It is made from the bulb from the autumn crocus (scientific name: Colchicum fallale). This “natural” treatment has been around for over 2000 years. Colchicine, despite its popularity, is extremely toxic and can cause nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea in 100% people who take it at high doses. The fact is that while more than half of modern pharmacopeia contain “natural” substances, they may not be safe to use. However, the FDA closely monitors their safety and use. If you’re not careful, natural treatments can make matters worse. Vitamin C, for example, has been shown to reduce uric acid levels, and reduce gout attacks. However, they can also increase the likelihood of kidney stones, and if you start them suddenly, it can cause more attacks. Although many prescription drugs for gout can be dangerous, they can be extremely safe and effective if used correctly. Gout attacks can usually be stopped within minutes, hours, or days. Gout attacks can be stopped if you manage hyperuricemia, the root cause of gout.
- Gout medications can stop your attacks immediately. Gout medications that lower uric acid can cause gout attacks to worsen in the short-term, but they will usually stop them completely after 6-12 months. People experience more attacks when they start taking these medications. Then they stop taking them and realize that they are not working. We know that sudden changes in uric acids, or drops in uric acids, can trigger attacks.Most doctors will not prescribe uric acids lowering medications in the correct doses or prophylactic medications to prevent attacks. Start slowly and gradually increase your uric acid-lowering medication dosage over several weeks. Never stop or start them suddenly. Make sure you have been prescribed medications to prevent attacks within the first six-12 months.
- Gout will disappear if you avoid seafood and beer. The most persistent myths about gout are those regarding diet. There is truth to it, just like all good myths. Both beer and seafood have been shown to be powerful foods that cause an abrupt increase in uric acids, which can trigger an attack. However, in most cases, avoiding these foods or following a strict “low-purine diet” will reduce the frequency of attacks, not eliminate them entirely. 90% of cases of gout are genetic. Diet cannot overpower genetics.
- Avoid alcohol if you have gout. There is truth to this myth, just like all good myths. Gout is a very serious condition that beer has been proven to cause. Gout sufferers should avoid beer. This advice is not popular, but it is true. Gout can also be caused by spirits like vodka and whiskey, but not nearly as much as beer. Red wine, on the other hand can reduce your risk of developing gout if you don’t drink more than one glass per week. Two glasses of red wine is equivalent to one glass. The key is to limit your intake to two glasses of red wine per day if you do want to have a drink.
- Gout is not a problem other than the pain from gout attacks. This is a dead wrong, and I mean dead. Gout can be crippling if it is not treated properly. Gout attacks can cause damage to and even death to joints. Tophus (larger crystals of uric acids in the body) can also cause disfigurement of hands and feet. Hyperuricemia, which is the root cause of gout, has been linked to heart disease, high bloodpressure, kidney disease and liver disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. All of these are deadly. Gout can and does cause death!
- I am overweight, but that has nothing to do with my Gout. It’s a lie! Gout and hyperuricemia are strongly linked to excess body weight. Losing weight and keeping it off is the best thing you can to your gout and your health. Although it is not something anyone wants to hear, gout and being overweight are a sure way to contract one of the deadly diseases mentioned in the previous myth. These diseases can be avoided by losing weight and exercising regularly.
Gout is a condition that medical science doesn’t know much about. Gout is actually one of the most well-known diseases of the thousands. Scientists and doctors know exactly what causes it and how it progresses. Science has become stale with gout over the years. Very little research has been done since the 1980’s and 1970’s. The correct management of the disease has been lost on doctors. A recent study found that 78% of doctors were not properly managing gout. Recently, however, there has been an increase in interest in gout management. New medications are being developed and research is ongoing to fill in any gaps.