Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis that causes pain and discomfort, often in the toes, ankles, and knees. There is no cure for gout, so a combination of medications and home remedies can help keep gout in remission.
Gout occurs when the body builds up too much uric acid. This acid is a by-product from when the body breaks down purines found in foods.
Making some dietary changes can help a person reduce their purine levels and the likelihood of having a gout flare.
Home remedies for gout include:
When a person has gout, they can experience significant swelling and inflammation. One of the ways to reduce swelling is by drinking more water.
Increasing fluid consumption can kick-start a person's kidneys to release excess fluid, which can reduce swelling in a person with gout.
Water is best, but other clear fluids, such as broths and herbal teas are also good choices. People should avoid alcohol and sodas, which are high in purines.
However, anyone with congestive heart failure or kidney disease should talk to their doctor before increasing their fluid intake.
Applying a cloth-covered ice pack to the joint can help reduce gout-related inflammation.
Try applying an ice pack wrapped in a thin towel for 10–15 minutes at a time to help relieve pain.
If gout is affecting the feet, a person can also use a pack of frozen vegetables covered with a washcloth, as this may drape more easily over the feet.
Heightened stress can worsen a person's gout symptoms. While it is not always possible to eliminate all sources of stress, the following tips might help:
- exercising, such as taking a brief walk, if the pain does not limit movement
- asking for time off from work
- journaling or reading a favorite book
- listening to music
Getting enough rest can also help a person feel less stressed.
Gout can cause pain and swelling, especially in the feet, hands, knees, and ankles.
One way to reduce swelling is by elevating the affected joints. This encourages blood and fluid to move away from the joint and back toward the heart.
A person can also use an ice-pack in combination with elevation to reduce their gout symptoms.
Fish contain anti-inflammatory compounds that help to enhance health overall. Some research has found some fish especially helpful in reducing uric acid levels.
Authors of a 2016 study found that taking tuna extract helped to reduce participants' serum uric acid levels. However, the participants did not have gout, so more research is necessary to confirm these results.
However, some nutrition websites list tuna as a high-purine food, so some people may find eating tuna worsens their symptoms.
In addition, the Arthritis Foundation list a number of other fish that contain high levels of purines, including anchovies, sardines, and cod.
While over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen sodium (Aleve), may not be "natural," they are excellent options for treating pain and discomfort due to gout.
People should never take more than the recommended dose and always ask a doctor about whether OTC medicines might interfere with their other medications.
If OTC pain-relievers do not help, ask a doctor about stronger prescription medications.
Some people think drinking coffee may decrease the risk of experiencing gout.
A 2016 review and meta-analysis showed that those who drank more coffee were less likely to have gout. This may be because coffee can lower uric acid levels.
However, just because the study showed a correlation between higher coffee consumption and lower risk of gout, this does not mean that coffee caused the lower risk.
A research study published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatology found increasing cherry intake over 2-days decreased the risk for gout attacks by 35 percent in those with previously diagnosed gout.
Cherries contain high levels of anthocyanins, which are anti-inflammatory compounds. The researchers found there were symptom-reducing benefits for those eating whole cherries or cherry juice, as well as people taking cherry extract supplements.
They also discovered a 75 percent risk reduction for gout attacks when a person consumed cherries in addition to taking a gout medication.
Cherries and cherry juice are available in many supermarkets. People can also buy cherry extract supplements in health food stores and online.
The authors of a 2015 study found that adding the juice of two freshly squeezed lemons to 2 liters of water each day reduced uric acid in people with gout.
The researchers concluded that lemon water helps to neutralize uric acid in the body, thus helping to reduce levels.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, drinking more than two liquor drinks or two beers per day increases a person's risk for gout.
Beer is high in purines, so avoiding it can benefit a person with gout.
Some meats also contain high amounts of purines. Avoiding meats that contain high levels of purine might help to reduce a person's gout symptoms.
Meats and fish that are high in purines include:
- organ meats, such as liver
Some medications, such as diuretics, can increase the risks of a uric acid buildup and gout flare.
It is essential that people do not stop taking their medication before speaking to a doctor about possible alternatives. In some cases, the benefits of the medication outweigh the side effects.
A doctor can also discuss which medications are available to help reduce gout symptoms.
Gout flare-ups can be painful and exhausting. Treatments, including home remedies, can reduce symptoms and help prevent future flare-ups.
Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly can also help a person manage their condition.
If a person's flare-ups do not start to improve after 48 hours, they should call their doctor to determine if they need further medical treatments.