What is gout?

Gout is a type of arthritis that causes pain and swelling in one or more joints. It is caused by a chemical called Uric acid which forms crystals in the joint. These crystals are rough and cause marked inflammation and pain. Uric acid is normally present in the bloodstream but only causes gout when it deposits and crystallises in a joint. The kidneys normally get rid of uric acid but may not excrete enough in susceptible individuals.

What causes gout?

It can often run in families where people either produce too much uric acid or they don’t excrete enough. Several factors can make it worse or cause an attack.
Too much alcohol causes a build up. Beer is worse than wine and getting dehydrated with a hangover is especially bad. Low Vitamin C in the diet can make it more common. Some foods increase uric acid levels especially shellfish and yeast extract Fizzy drinks with sugar in are potent triggers and should be avoided in sensitive people. Diet drinks are fine. Certain medical conditions are linked with increased uric acid levels. These include diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol levels, kidney disease and some blood or bone marrow cancers so it is important to seek medical attention when gout first occurs.

Who gets gout?

It can be hereditary. Men are more commonly affected and usually occur in middle age but it can affect any age. Symptoms Usually an attack of gout comes on over a few hours. The affected joint usually gets red, hot swollen and very tender. The big toe is often affected, but ankle, knee, wrist or any joint can develop gout. The pain is often severe and the patient cannot bear the joint to be touched.

What are the treatments?

Pain killers and anti-inflammatories are usually given early. They can usually settle an attack within 24hrs.They can have serious side effects so it is important to see your doctor. Colchicine is an alternative in people who can’t tolerate anti- inflammatories. Steroid tablets or injections are also sometimes used.

How can I prevent gout?

Lose weight. This tends to reduce uric acid levels Avoid foods rich in proteins. Shellfish and yeast extract foods are the worst. Reduce your alcohol intake especially beer. Don’t get dehydrated so drink sufficient water. Avoid fizzy drinks that contain sugar. Take Vitamin C supplements. If repeated attacks occur a drug called Allopurinol can be useful. This increases uric acid excretion from the kidneys and can be taken long term.

How do magnets help?

Zing magnets placed on traditional acupuncture points as advised seem to work by encouraging the increased excretion of uric acid by the kidneys. They can be applied during an acute attack but are often best use to prevent further attacks. They are safe and can be left on the skin for long periods.

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