Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol increases a person’s chance of developing gout. Beer, in particular, can lead to gout symptoms.

Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis. It usually affects only one joint at a time but can be very painful.

Gout occurs due to an excess of uric acid in the bloodstream, which causes crystals to form. However, a person can have gout with normal serum uric acid levels.

When gout crystals accumulate in a person’s joints, they may experience:

The most common location for gout crystals to form is the big toe joint. It can also occur in other joints, such as the fingers, wrists, knees, and ankles. The symptoms can be local to these sites.

Any cause of uric acid accumulation can trigger gout.

Read on to learn about alcohol and gout, other causes and risk factors, and more.

A person with gout and alcohol. -1Share on Pinterest

Alcohol can increase the level of uric acid circulating in the bloodstream. Regular alcohol use can increase a person’s chance of developing gout.

Alcohol consumption can also cause existing gout to worsen into a flare.

Uric acid is a product of the metabolism of purine, a natural chemical found in the body and in many foods.

The liver, intestines, and blood vessel linings synthesize uric acid from purine. The kidneys ensure that the correct amount of uric acid circulates in the bloodstream.

Uric acid is an antioxidant that can be beneficial at a certain level.

For example, insufficient uric acid can leave nerve cell myelin vulnerable to degradation, leading to multiple sclerosis (MS). People with MS are less likely to have gout.

Too much uric acid can lead to a condition called hyperuricemia. An estimated 90% of hyperuricemia and gout cases are due to the kidneys not managing the body’s uric acid level.

Both uric acid excretion problems and purine metabolism disorders can cause high uric acid levels that lead to gout.

Some gout risk factors other than alcohol use include:

If a person already has gout, alcohol can worsen symptoms.

A 2021 review recommends that people with gout and those at risk of developing the disease limit their alcohol consumption to prevent gout episodes or flares.

Which type of alcohol is the worst for gout?

According to a 2021 review, most studies link gout to alcoholic beverages such as beer and spirits. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also reports that beer and hard liquor can worsen gout symptoms.

However, an older 2014 study found that any type of alcohol can trigger a gout flare. The study found that even moderate amounts of alcohol may result in recurrent gout episodes.

How much alcohol is safe to drink if you have gout?

It is advisable that a person with gout eliminates alcohol from their diet to prevent flare-ups.

As drinking increases the risk of gout, someone who already has gout risk factors that they cannot change — such as a family history of gout — may wish to eliminate alcohol so as not to contribute further to its development.

Diet and lifestyle choices such as the following can reduce a person’s chance of developing gout:

  • avoiding foods and beverages that are high in purine
  • eating lower purine foods
  • avoiding medications that increase levels of uric acid
  • maintaining a healthy body weight
  • limiting alcohol use
  • treating underlying conditions that can affect kidney function

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about alcohol and gout.

Does gout go away if you stop drinking?

According to the CDC, there is no cure for gout.

However, stopping the use of alcohol can lessen gout symptoms.

In addition to stopping alcohol use, the CDC suggests other gout management strategies, including:

  • eating a healthy diet
  • exercising
  • maintaining a healthy body weight
  • choosing low impact, joint-friendly exercises

What type of alcohol triggers gout?

A 2021 review of 15 studies found a correlation between gout and beer, as well as distilled spirits.

The results for wine were contradictory. Some studies in the review found that wine can trigger gout. Other studies noted a protective effect from moderate wine consumption because of its antioxidant and phytoestrogen content.

A 2023 study comparing beer with Japanese sake found that the serum urate levels associated with beer consumption were two to five times higher than for sake.

How do you prevent gout when drinking alcohol?

It may not be possible to prevent gout when drinking alcohol.

Consuming water can help to reduce the severity of a gout flare. Reducing alcohol intake may also help, as well as avoiding foods and beverages that contain high fructose corn syrup.

Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis due to excess uric acid in the bloodstream. It usually occurs in the big toe but can also develop in other joints.

There are several risk factors for gout, including regular and excessive alcohol consumption. Any type of alcohol can trigger gout, but researchers most often associate it with beer and spirits.

There is no cure for gout, but there are strategies a person can use to reduce symptom severity and frequency.