Gout is a form of painful, inflammatory arthritis that impacts millions of people around the world.  It is a condition that occurs when uric acid crystals build up in the joints, causing inflammation,  pain, and swelling. Fortunately, gout can be managed with medicines and lifestyle changes,  however, certain triggers can worsen the condition and increase the risk of gout flares or “gout  attacks.” Learning which triggers to avoid is a great way for people with gout to be able to self manage his or her condition. In this article, we will explore five common triggers of gout and how  to avoid them to reduce the risk of gout attacks. 

  1. High Purine Foods 

Purines are substances found in many foods, particularly meat, seafood, and some vegetables.  When purines are broken down in the body, they produce uric acid. Therefore, eating foods high  in purines can increase uric acid levels in the body, leading to gout attacks. It is recommended  for people with gout to limit their intake of high-purine foods such as organ meats, shellfish, and red meat. 

  1. Alcohol 

There is a strong association between alcohol consumption and gout attacks. This is because  alcohol can increase the amount of uric acid the body makes and decrease its removal, leading  to higher uric acid levels. Additionally, alcohol can dehydrate the body which makes it more  difficult for the kidneys to remove uric acid. Avoiding or limiting alcohol consumption from beer,  wine, and hard liquors can help reduce the risk of triggering a gout attack. 

  1. Dehydration 

Dehydration occurs when the body does not have enough water. When this happens, the body  produces less urine, and uric acid can build up in the kidneys and joints. To prevent  dehydration, it is crucial to drink plenty of water throughout the day and stay away from sugary  or caffeinated drinks that can dehydrate the body. 

  1. Medicines 

Certain medicines, such as diuretics or “water pills,” can worsen gout by increasing uric acid  levels in the body as an unintended side effect. Examples of diuretics include  hydrochlorothiazide and furosemide which are used to treat high blood pressure or water  retention. Notify your rheumatologist of any medicines you are taking to identify if they can be  possible gout triggers.

  1. High-fructose corn syrup 

High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a sweetener commonly found in processed foods like candy and sugary beverages such as soda or certain juices. Studies have shown that consuming high  levels of HFCS can increase uric acid levels in the body and raise the risk of gout. To lower the  risk of gout attacks, it is essential for people with gout to limit their consumption of HFCS and choose whole foods instead of processed ones.  

Certain factors can exacerbate gout and increase the risk of gout attacks. Thankfully, this can  be prevented by limiting the intake of high-purine foods, avoiding or limiting alcohol  consumption, staying hydrated, maintaining a healthy weight, and talking to your rheumatologist  about any medicines you are taking.