Gout can plague many parts of the body, and with so many causes and risk factors, it can be difficult to identify the main reason for your diagnosis. For individuals who consume beer, odds are you’ve heard that large amounts of alcohol can directly be responsible for gout. But what exactly is the relationship between alcohol and gout, and how much do you need to consume for it to become a major issue? Let’s explore gout and beer and what you can do if a diagnosis is traced back to your alcohol intake.
What Is Gout?
Gout is a type of arthritis that affects joints all over the body but typically concentrates around the feet. Gout forms from high levels of uric acid that build up and eventually crystallize in the joints. Crystals can also form around the kidney and create kidney stones that build up in various places on the body. Four stages typically characterize gout:
- High Levels of Uric Acid: In this beginning stage, uric acid begins to crystallize, and most patients don’t feel much pain or experience swelling. The only sign will be from tests showing high uric acid levels.
- Gout Flares: Gout will typically start to flare up in this stage, concentrating on the ankles, knees, the big toe, and other joints on the foot.
- Intercritical Gout: While most people experience another gout flare-up within a year of the first, some go years without another. The period between gout flares is called intercritical gout, which is the most important stage for patients to get long-term treatment.
- Chronic Gout: After years of not caring for the health condition, chronic gout can appear. Uric acid deposits can eventually form tophi nodules (usually at the big toe or elbow). At this point, the pain will occur almost every day, and progressive joint damage can occur.
The Relationship Between Alcohol and Gout
Alcohol consumption leads to increased production of uric acid. Alcohol contains a compound called purines, which breaks into uric acid as the body breaks it down. It also can increase the metabolism of nucleotides, which is another form of purine that can be broken into uric acid. While all alcohols lead to increased purine content, not all are created the same. Spirits produce the lowest level of purines, while beer is responsible for the highest. So if you’re someone actively consuming beers and are diagnosed with gout, odds are your high consumption levels are leading to joint pain.
Gout Risk Factors
High beer consumption isn’t the only cause of gout. You can also increase the risk of developing gout if you have a family history of gout, are obese, male, or consume beverages with high sugar content. Additionally, high purine-rich diets (such as organ meat, red meat, and seafood) can lead to the development of gout. Some health conditions that lead to gout include diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, and congestive heart failure.
How to Prevent Alcohol-Related Gout
While there isn’t a cure for gout, there are plenty of ways to prevent it from advancing or occurring altogether. If you’ve been diagnosed with gout because of how much beer you drink, the simple solution can be to stop drinking alcohol. But not everyone finds it easy to reduce their alcohol consumption. Some individuals wonder if drinking other forms of alcohol like tequila, rum, or wine can help manage gout. Others find that avoiding alcohol is much more difficult than they ever thought possible.
Avoid Drinking All Types of Alcohol
The best way to reduce the likelihood of developing gout, especially in the first stage, is to stop drinking alcohol altogether. This is especially true if you consume beer often, as any sip you take can contribute to a progression in gout stages. Even one or two beers a day can greatly increase the risk of gout; the further along you are, the worse rum, tequila, or wine consumption will be.
Change Drinking Habits
When you have gout, keeping uric acid levels low is the most important way to prevent it from worsening. Most doctors recommend cutting out alcohol altogether or changing drinking habits — usually by cutting down on quantity. If you are a heavy beer drinker, changing your habits to less impactful drinks can be the first step that makes a big difference.
Get Help From a Professional Treatment Center
Some individuals find out that cutting out their alcohol consumption is extremely hard. It’s common for individuals who consume enough beer to get out and find themselves with a drinking problem. In this case, the best way to get help is by contacting a professional treatment center like Steps to Recovery and participating in a specialized addiction counseling center.
Treating Alcohol Addictions Can Prevent Gout and Plenty of Other Issues
If you’ve been diagnosed with gout and can trace back your diagnosis to consumption of alcohol, your problem may not just be gout. Treating gout can only start at the source, and that means reducing your high alcohol consumption. Gout may be one problem, but it likely won’t be the only one. If you’re looking for a center for rehabilitation from alcohol, Steps to Recovery is the place to go. Discover how our treatment programs can help you, your family, and countless others treat alcohol-related gout by contacting Steps to Recovery today at 267.719.8528.