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Gout, a form of inflammatory arthritis, was once considered to be the â€œdisease of kings,â€ but nowadays gout is a lot more democratic.
It can affect anyone who overindulges like a king or queen by eating too much red meat and drinking too much alcohol and that includes over two million Americans.
Gout is acute. It often develops overnight in one or two specific joints. You go to bed feeling fine at night, only to wake up in the morning with an incredibly sore, swollen toe or ankle.
The pain can last for as long as a week, go away and return again sometime later. But, if not taken care of, gout can become more severe over time, causing permanent damage to the affected joints.
This painful disease usually strikes men after the age of 40, but it can affect either sex at any age. Post-menopausal women are sometimes afflicted since estrogen helps empty uric acid from the kidneys.Â
A buildup of uric acid, which is a natural byproduct of the break down of red meat and other specific foods, forms microscopic crystals in the affected joint, causing the painful inflammation and swelling that’s associated with gout.
NSAIDs (ibuprofen, Advil and Motrin) and COX-2 (Vioxx, Celebrex and Bextra) arthritis painkillers have been the most commonly prescribed medications for gout. However, a recent study (British Medical Journal) showed that these painkiller drugs are not very effective. They reduced pain only in the short run and only slightly better than a placebo.
Dr. Jan Magnus Bjordal, lead researcher, pooled the results of 23 clinical trials on gout to see just how effective NSAIDs drugs were. Dr. Bjordal said, â€œWe were surprised that the effects were so small.â€
Drug treatments for gout are also not curative, since they have no direct effect on reducing uric acid levels.
In addition, these medications are extremely powerful and have very serious side effects. COX-2 inhibitors (Vioxx, etc.), for example, have been linked to fatal heart attacks. These arthritic painkillers should only be taken with deliberate consideration, if at all.
But, the good news is gout can be naturally and effectively controlled and prevented by making positive, healthy lifestyle and dietary changes â€“ if you take the first attack as a wake up call.
An eating plan low in red meat and high in fish, fruits, vegetables and low fat-dairy is strongly recommended. Eating in this manner will gradually help you achieve and maintain healthy weight to lighten the load on affected joints. It will also help you reduce uric acid levels.
Since alcohol interferes with the removal of uric acid, itâ€™s also important for anyone susceptible to gout to avoid it as much as possible. Instead, they should drink at least 10 to 12 glasses a day of pure, clean water. Water will help flush out uric acid from the body.
Fish oil is nature’s most potent and effective anti-inflammatory agent and it will work wonders for naturally reducing the painful inflammation and swelling of gout.