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Tis’ the Season for Gout

It’s that time of year again! Pass the gravy, and the butter, and the roast… *gobble* *gobble*.

I know it’s hard to stop yourself when looking down the table and looking at the gibblets, let alone the egg nog brandy, wine, and otherwise incredible sights and smells of the holiday season. That is, of course, unless you have gout. Gout was one considered the “rich man’s” disease for a reason, and when you look at our holiday spreads it’s easier to see why. But just because you have gout doesn’t mean you should lock yourself in a closet until the tinsel is put away… so let’s talk.

gout-and-holiday-foods

The first thing I want to dispel is this notion that gout diets are meaningful. They aren’t.

The only dietary change that has been shown to be effective is dark cherries (juice, extract, fruit), as this helps the kidneys to get rid of more uric acid (that’s the stuff that causes gout). But putting the kibosh on all the dressings isn’t helping, and may ultimately be hurting you, in the long run.

As in life, it’s ALL about portion sizes and your own personal history. For example… if eating lobster gives you a gout attack, then DON’T eat that thing that gives you gout attacks. BUT, if having a large serving of venison covered in bacon, butter, and beer give you a gout attack… I think maybe we should talk more about your dietary choices.

Secondly, I want to dispel the notion that Gout (the chronic disease) is the same thing as Gout (the attack, when your foot is being eaten by a demon). It’s NOT.

Gout attacks only happen when the uric acid levels in your blood go haywire and the uric acid CRYSTALS in your joints get disrupted. People with gout usually have very elevated uric acid levels, for a LONG time before their first attack. A lot of things can cause this, including diet. The treatment of gout is both to treat (AND CURE) the uric acid that is stored in your body, as well as prevent and control any of the gout attacks that may happen along the way. We can do BOTH, but getting the right plan for each patient requires that we think specifically about why each patient has gout to begin with, and what their individual path to a cure would look like.

Happy holidays, for you and your family. I hope that you are all gout free and well! But if you’re NOT… call me to set up an appointment at (978) 521-3200.

Dr. William O’Brien
Rheumatology