Monday, September 30, 2013

Uric Acid Monitor

gout uric acid tester meter
My Uric Acid Meter
How often do you go the the doctor just to get your uric acid levels checks? There are Uric Acid Meters that will allow you to check you Uric Acid levels at home. I have been using my Uric Acid Meters for several years with lots of success. They work the same way as a common home glucose meter. You will use a lancet to prick your finger to drop blood from the tip. Apply the drop to the Uric Acid test strip. Then you wait for the results. 

Male : 3 ~ 7.2 mg/dL (179 ~ 428 umol/L)
Female : 2 ~ 6 mg/dL (119 ~ 357 umol/L)

This was one of my best investments for reduce the risk of a future gout attacks. When I bought mine they were hard to find. Now, you can purchase them from Amazon. 

Uric Acid Meters to help with Gout

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Gout: What do I do?

If you are currently experiencing a gout attack you should visit your doctor if you have not already done so. You need to think about what you have eaten that could have caused this gout attack. You should avoid consuming red meat, shellfish, fish, nuts, beans, spinach, alcohol, hot dogs, carbonated drinks, cauliflower, kelp, mushrooms, most soups, and any foods you really enjoy that are high in purines. You should eat lots of cherries, other red berries, and maybe some watermelon. You should be drinking lots and lots of water. This will help to flush the uric acid from your system. Generally, your body’s pH is acidic. Drinking alkaline water, or adding alkaline drops to your water, will reduce the acidity of your body and promote the reduction of the uric acid. As for protein, I recommend SMALL portions of baked chicken, not fried chicken. Chicken has fewer purines than other proteins plus there is hundreds of way to bake chicken and make it taste good.
If you are NOT experiencing a gout attack but have a history of gout, you need to learn what your trigger foods are and avoid them. Any time you have a gout attack or gout flare, you should consider all of the food and drink you have consumed in the past 48 hours to determine what may have been your trigger. Generally, you will want to limit your intake of red meat, shellfish, fish, nuts, beans, spinach, alcohol, hot dogs, carbonated drinks, cauliflower, kelp, mushrooms, most soups, and any foods you really enjoy that are high in purines. Continue to drink lots of water. You can purchase a uric acid meter if you want to monitor you uric acid levels on your own. If the doctor has given you a preventive medicine like Allopurinol, you should continue to take it as prescribed but NOT while you are having a gout attack. Some suffers have found that Allopurinol can actually cause gout for some people instead of prevent it.
This is my experience. You may have a different experience. Leave me a comment and tell me your story.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Is Allopurinol Good?

I have been reading where lots of people are taking Allopurinol to control their Gout. It seems to work for some people but apparently not everyone. After my first gout attack, like most gout sufferers, my doctor prescribed Allopurinol. He said not to take it during a gout attack but to wait about a week after the attack was over then start taking Allopurinol regularly. So I waited for my attack to be completely done. The pain was gone, the swelling was gone, and I was walking normally. I waited a week and started taking Allopurinol like the doctor told me to do. Within a few days, I had another full blown Gout attack.

Was it something I ate or was it the meds? I stopped taking the Allopurinol, evaluated what I had eaten, and treated the attack. I still did not understand all about purines, uric acid, and trigger foods so I assumed it was something I ate. It did not take long for my next gout attack to I tried again with the same result as before. This time I continued with the daily Allopurinol routine knowing it might get worse before it got better. I continued for another week but no relief so I gave up. I continued to question if I had eaten the wrong foods or if it was the Allopurinol. I may never really know if the Allopurinol was the trigger of those Gout attacks or not. Today, I simply watch what I eat. I know what many of my trigger foods are so I try to avoid them. I am not suggesting that Allopurinol will not work for preventing a gout attack, I am only descriptions my experience with it.

Have you had a similar experience with Allopurinol and Gout? Comment about your experience.

Gout Trauma

Imagine you have been dealing with a gout attack for weeks. You have drank gallons of black cherry juice and water, snacked on cherries by the dozen, eaten only various styles of chicken and avoided all of your favorite foods so that the gout attack in your left toe is finally on the mends. Then late one night, you wake to go the restroom. You pull yourself from under the covers, place your feet on the floor being very careful where you place it. Then you take your first couple of steps slipping on something on the floor. While trying to catch your fall, your already tender foot hits the metal side of the bed frame with full force, causing some of the worse pain you have felt in weeks. It is a near impossible task not to scream at the top of your lungs trying not to wake my wife, the kids on the other side of the house, or possibly even the neighbors in the house next door. After you gain your composure, you put your kids back to bed and call off the paramedics that the neighbors calls, you realize that the pain in your foot is not subsiding quickly and your gout attack is returning stronger than before. This is a scenario that is all too common for some gout sufferers. Blunt force trauma to a gouty toe, knee or other joint is not something any of us enjoy. Whether it is stumping your gouty toe on furniture, dropping heavy objects on your foot, or have someone accidentally step on it, they are all scenarios that will more than likely cause you lots more pain in weeks to come. Like any other gout attack, you restart you gout control measures and pile on the cherries and water. There are many stories of gout sufferer re-aggregating a gouty joint with some form of blunt force trauma. Comment to this blog and share you story.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fight Gout Naturally

Fighting a gout attack is not easily done naturally. It is easier to take pills that relieve the pain quickly than it is to endure more pain than one can handle. Gout is one disorder that can cause that extreme pain and it can last for weeks or months. A gout attack will go away on its own, if the sufferer can handle it. Not everyone can do that. Although I recommend taking medication to eliminated the pain from a gout attack, preventing future gout attacks should be done as naturally as possible.

Every gout sufferer has a list of trigger foods. It is important to find out what these triggers are so they can be limited or avoided to reduce the risk of future gout attacks. Trigger foods are foods that can trigger a gout attack. Generally, these are foods high in purines that are processed by the body to form the uric acid crystals that cause gout. Some common trigger foods are organ meats, shellfish, alcohol, some vegetables, etc. It is possible that one person has different trigger food than another person. It is good to learn about other sufferers trigger foods, but you will learn through painful experience what your foods might be.

The next thing is to reduce the acid in the body. Although it will be impossible to eliminate acidic foods and beverages from your diet, you can replace some acidic food and drinks with more alkaline replacements that are low in purines. Watermelon, pineapple, lemons, and broccoli are some foods that have low purines and alkaline rich foods.

Although, there is no known cure for gout, the best we can do is reduce our risk of having an attack. Depending on who you are, medicine may or may not be a choice. Most medicine has some side effects, either short or long term, that some people are not willing to chance. Gout can be controlled naturally if you are willing to handle it.

Gout caused by Dehydration

I was returning from an overnight camping trip with my son's Boy Scout troop. The troop spent the day in the hot sun, heat, and sweat entertaining other scout troops as well as ourselves. When we returned home, my wonderful wife had prepared a delicious meal of fresh kielbasa with some vegetables on the side. Yummy!!! Unfortunately, it did not take long to realize that I had eaten something I should not have eaten. I learned that FRESH kielbasa is made with fresh pork casing which is considered an organ meat. Organ meat is a big 'no no' for gout sufferers. That combined with the fact that I was probably dehydrated from being out in the heat was a recipe for a nasty gout attack. This compelled me to learn more about fresh meats and the importance of staying hydrated. To help prevent a gout attack, it is important to stay hydrated. Without proper hydration, it makes it harder for the body to remove the uric acid that causes gout.

Monday, September 23, 2013

pH Balance for Gout Control

One way you can help control your gout attack is by controlling the pH balance of your body. The pH, or Power of Hydrogen, in the body is measured on a scale from 0 to 14. A pH of 0 is extremely acidic, a pH of 14 is extremely alkaline, and a pH of 7 is neutral. The body is naturally alkaline but only slightly around 7.5. A person can become extremely sick if the body is too acidic or too alkaline so it is important to try to keep it balanced. Most of the food and drinks we consume are acidic making our bodies more acidic. Consider all the alcohol, sodas, and caffeinated beverage we have in a day. They are all acidic. Even fruits which are healthy to eat are high acidic. Then on those hot days when you are drinking lots of water to stay hydrated. The water we drink (from the tap or bottled) is generally acidic. This makes our job as gout sufferers even harder because the more acid is in our bodies the harder it will be to stop a gout attack.
During one of my longest gout attacks, I decided to find out about the acidity of my body. I purchased some pH balance strips that you would use to test the chemical in a pool. So when I would go to the restroom, I could check the acidity of my body. It was eye opening to see how acidic my body was. You can find Urinalysis Strips online designed to inform you about the chemicals in your body beyond just your pH balance. I highly recommend testing your pH balance but either test strip should to the trick for gout issues.
Since our bodies and food are so acidic, what does a gout suffered do? We need to consume more food and drinks that are more alkaline than acidic. When I looked at a list of alkaline foods I noticed that some of the vegetables on that list are high in purines, like cauliflower and asparagus, which I once enjoyed. As I mentioned before, bottled water is generally acidic. I decided to use the pH strips in samples of the water I was drinking. I tested water from the kitchen and bottled water. Water from my tap was very acidic probably due to the metal pipes. Bottled water depends on the brands. Most of the bottled water that you find in the stores are neutral or slightly acidic depending on the brand. A few were more acidic than others. I then discovered that there are some brands that sell alkaline water. Most are only slightly alkaline around 8.0. If you look in the health food stores some can be found to be as high as 9.5. Unfortunately, purchasing bottled alkaline water can be expensive. Then someone introduced me to Alkaline drops. These are drops that you add to any drinks to make them more alkaline. There are many brands of alkaline drops available. I have tried several brands in tea and water. Some brand leave a bad taste so I suggest you try a few brands and see what you like. There are home remedies around that use baking soda to help balance the pH but I did not enjoy the taste of it but alkaline drops are not bad.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Food I Avoid or Limit

This is a list of food I completely avoid, (A Growing List)
- Regular hot dogs (beef or skinless are good)
- Peanuts
- Shellfish (crab, lobster, CLAMS, OYSTERS, scallops, etc)
- Asparagus
- Kelp Noodles
- Powdered Eggs
- Diet Pills

Food I limit (might have one or two)
- Sushi (Tuna, white fish)
- Mushrooms, cauliflower, Tomatoes
- Steak, Pork
- Beef Jerky
- Beer, Wine, Spirits
- Beans

Food safe to eat during a gout attack.
- Chicken
- Cherries, strawberries, raspberries
- Grapes, Watermelon

What food do you avoid

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Gout Pain? Avoid Canned Seafood.

The doctor told me I should lose weight to reduce my risk of gout. In addition to light exercise, I decided to cut back on what I ate for lunch. I would eat the occasional salad or a can of soup. Later, I discovered these tuna and cracker snacks that I really enjoyed for lunch. They were small, convenient, inexpensive, non-perishable, and yummy. I would alternate between soups and the tuna snacks during the week. I was losing weight and saving money. I did have some gout flare episodes but nothing major and it did no raise any red flags. One Sunday evening, we decided to go to one of the local chain seafood restaurant for dinner. With gout as an after thought, I ordered shrimp and my all time favorite scallops. I didn't think about the risk of gout until after dinner. Then, much to my surprise, I did not have a gout attack that night. I could not help but wonder if I was cured. Did I somehow eliminate gout as a factor in my life?
The following day, I decided to have a soup for lunch. I grabbed the next one from the cabinet; clam chowder, no big deal. Within four hours, I started to feel the pain in my toe flaring. Five hours later, I was in full blown gout attack mode. As with each previous episode, I thought about all I had eaten in the past weeks. Clearly, the clam chowder was not a good idea but why didn't I have an attack after the shrimp and scallops which are both high in purines. What I discovered is that clams, like other shellfish, are high in purines and can be a gout trigger for lots of people. I learned that canned seafood products, like soups and tuna, could could contain higher levels are purines making them a higher risk for gout sufferers. I determined that the clam chowder was the trigger to this latest gout attack it wasn't the only factor. The canned tuna, that I consumed for weeks, kept my uric acid levels high which explained the occasional gout flares I experienced. I got lucky not having an attack following the shrimp and scallops, but must have kept my uric acid levels elevated. When I ate the clam chowder, my body was primed for a major gout attack. That is exactly what happened.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

My Second Gout Attack with Oysters

In July 2005, I had to take business trip where I was able to bring the whole family. We made a mini-vacation out of it. The pain in my left foot was feeling much better and I was walking without a limp for the first time in weeks. On the second night, we went to a seafood restaurant with a few coworkers. This place served some fantastic smoked oysters. I only ordered one dozen for myself. My son ordered two dozen of his own. It did not take long before he realized his eyes were bigger than his stomach. So like the great father I am, I offered to finish the last dozen. After consuming two dozen smoked oysters, we were ready to go back to our vacation rental, 30 minutes away. From the time we left the restaurant to the time we arrived to our rental, I had gone from walking normal to a full blown massive Gout Attack. Walking from the car to the bedroom was very difficult. My wife had to help me walk since putting any pressure on my foot was painful. That night, I learned the pressure from the soft flat sheet from the bed lying on my toe caused excruciating pain. As I mentioned before, I don’t generally go to the doctor, but the pain I felt from this attack forced me to find a local doctor to provide me with some much needed relief. The doctor gave me another NSAID but real relief from this attack was weeks away. From this experience, I learned that I need to do a lot more research in to the cause of Gout. Obviously, oysters were now off the menu, as well as beef and beer. It was frustrating to discover I was slowly eliminating my favorite foods from the list of items I was able to eat. I read that poultry was better than beef, pork and seafood, so I ate lots and lots of chicken.

Monday, September 2, 2013

My First Gout Attack

My first Gout attack was in May 2005. My foot had been hurting for a few weeks but I overlooked it as just stumped my toe. The joint below my big toe had become swollen, bright red and HOT to the touch. My ability to walk had become such a chore and the pain was getting worse. I don’t usually go the doctor but my wife finally told me she thought I should go. So after 3 weeks of growing pain in my foot, I finally went to the doctor following the Memorial Day weekend. The first thing he asked was if I had a “Big Weekend”. He wondered if I "drank a lot of beer and ate steak or burgers” over the holiday weekend. Ironically, I hadn’t had any steak or beer this weekend. He diagnosed me with “Gout” or the “Rich Man’s Disease”.

I had never heard of gout prior to this visitor to the doctor. My doctor gave me two medicines that I had never heard of until now: “Colchicine” and “Allopurinol”. Colchicine was supposed dissolve the uric acid crystal causing my gout. I was to take the Colchicine once every two hours until the pain went away or until the side effects started to occur. It only took 3 dosage of Colchicine before the side effects began. I would spend much of the next 3 days in the restroom and the gout pain had not subsided. The “Allopurinol” was a preventive medicine that I was to start when the attack was over. That would not happen for monthly. The following week I was still in pain so I went back to see my doctor. This time he only gave me more education. He told me to watch what I ate and to take “Aleve” or other NSAID for the pain and to drink more water. The pain continued for a few more weeks and was about gone. Then in July, was to go on a summer business trip where I was able to take the family. I wish I had done more research about Gout Triggers. This would become a trip I would never forget.

What is Gout?

Gout is a type of arthritis that causes excruciating pain to the joints it affects. With typical arthritis, cartilage erodes over time. With Gout, needle like uric acid crystals accumulate on the joints causing the joint to become red, swollen, and inflamed  The most commonly affected joint is the one below the big toe but it can occur to most any joint in the body.

Uric Acid is naturally removed through the kidneys, but when there are high levels of uric acid, called Hyperuricemia, the kidneys are not able to extract it all from the body allowing it to collect on the joints.

Uric Acid is created when the body breaks down purines found naturally in the body as well as the plants and animals consumed as food. Some foods like organ meats, legumes, and seafood have a higher consideration of purines than others.