Preventing attacks. The key to preventing frequent gout attacks is to lower uric acid levels, experts say. That can be achieved by losing weight and avoiding purine-rich foods, says Edwards. Those steps and taking the medications your doctor recommends, he says, can reduce the risk of gout attacks.
The good news is that "gout is one of the few curable forms of arthritis," Kay says. "Patients with gout should seek the attention of a rheumatologist so that they can be placed on appropriate treatment to prevent recurrent attacks and treat existing manifestations of gout."
While high uric acid levels have long been accepted as a cause of gout as well as kidney stones, some researchers think uric acid may also have other health implications. For this reason, if you've been told you have high uric acid levels but have not been diagnosed with gout, it is still a good idea to try to lower those levels by making changes to your diet and lifestyle. This problem, called asymptomatic hyperuricemia, may play a role in the development of such vascular conditions as stroke and heart and kidney disease, according to an article written by Edwards to be published in March in Current Opinion in Rheumatology. Still, for now, asymptomatic people should forgo drug treatment because it's not clear if it offers a benefit, and some medications can cause serious side effects.
If you're at risk for gout or already have the arthritic condition, consider following the diet advice below from the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Avoid these foods: Liver, kidney, anchovies, sardines, herring, mussels, bacon, codfish, scallops, trout, haddock, veal, venison, turkey, alcohol. These foods are known to be rich in purine.
Eat these foods only occasionally: Asparagus, beef, bouillon, chicken, crab, duck, ham, kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, mushrooms, lobster, oysters, pork, shrimp, and spinach
Eat these with no worries: Carbonated drinks, coffee, fruits, breads, grains, macaroni, cheese, eggs, dairy products, sugar, tomatoes, and most green vegetables (including lettuce but excluding the vegetables listed above)
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